Will MarShon Brooks finally emerge as a star in Beantown?
After the blockbuster trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (among others) packing their bags, it could be said that expectations for the Boston Celtics are very low. For a team with championship aspirations just a season ago, returning to rebuilding mode will soon be a sobering reality.
Yes, two vital pieces were lost, but it's better to look at Boston's situation from an optimist's perspective.
On a micro level, it provides a new individual with the opportunity to show out in a big way.
Said individual is none other than MarShon Brooks, a 2-guard prospect who finally has the opportunity to be a big-time player for Boston.
Whether it's the beautiful arcing fadeaway or simply his physical frame, it's tempting to make the comparison. But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
Coming into the league, Brooks has always been incredibly talented, but talent has to be molded and refined, and that can only be accomplished with a go-ahead from coaching staff.
Around the time he was getting into a groove as a Brooklyn Net, Brooks had to sit on the bench and let Joe Johnson put in work. While this move benefited Brooklyn in the short term, it undoubtedly stunted MarShon's individual growth and development as a pro during his tenure.
Now that he's in Boston, Brooks is finally free to make mistakes on a Boston Celtics squad with low expectations.
Like the Bean comparisons, saying he's "free to make mistakes" might also be a contentious statement in itself.
While he isn't Joe Johnson, Avery Bradley is by no means a scrub, and, at the moment, he's undoubtedly pegged as the starting 2-guard.
This means that MarShon will likely split or battle for the minutes Jordan Crawford will also be looking to hold on to. Without question, whoever of the two can limit their mistakes and still score baskets will be crowned the secondary shooting guard option off the bat.
Sure, let's temper the expectations a bit.
But at the same time, let's not act like Brooks isn't capable of being a great player.
Boston is still the perfect opportunity for all the right reasons—great city, big media market and most of all, Brooks has absolutely nothing to lose.
In this new, youthful era, if anything, Boston might be looking to tank and join the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes—and it would certainly be win-win if MarShon gets a lot of minutes to better himself along the way.
Looking at this roster, other than Jeff Green, Crawford and Rajon Rondo, nobody has proven to be a legitimate shot-creator off the bounce. The addition of Brooks means they have a new potential offensive threat to build around.
There are still other variables that will certainly affect just how quickly Brooks makes this transition for Boston, however.
"Variables" is mostly a moniker for the other guys he's going to be playing with this season, most importantly a championship-winning point guard.
Rajon Rondo is incredibly gifted when he wants to be aggressive, but it remains to be seen how he performs coming off his knee injury and his notoriously passive nature.
Now that Rondo is co-primary player with Jeff Green, who knows if he'll be more inclined to score? Most likely, he's going to prefer to get others involved before he goes racking up shot attempts.
Boston has the distributor, and they have a rangy forward in Green, but they could still use a legit offensive virtuoso who starts at the wing.
Avery Bradley, while a brilliant off-ball player and defender, is not an elite scorer from the wing. If it isn't spotting up or cutting, he's not going to dominate offensively, but it's his overall game that makes him the de facto starter at the 2-spot. Bradley is just a crafty, cerebral player who plays the perfect complement—he screams Scottie Pippen rather than Michael Jordan.
Brooks, on the other hand, screams Michael Jordan.
Not in game necessarily, but rather in the role that might be thrust upon him down the road.
Considering the murky cloud that is Rajon Rondo's future, and the possibility that Bradley has reached his ceiling, if the Celtics plan on developing their young guys for an entire season (a nice way of saying they're tanking) rather than competing, this is the perfect time for MarShon to capitalize on the opportunity.
Brooks is a unique asset, considering he is fundamentally sound despite being a young player. His upside is immeasurable, and his skill set is something that's incredibly difficult to teach.
If Boston managed to get their hands on a future star scorer—which is very, very possible that they did—then the train ride from Grand Mediocrity Station might be a lot shorter than expected.
For now, it should be baby steps for Boston, and on a smaller scale, baby steps for Brooks.
Brooks' minutes per game were cut from 29.4 to 12.5 last season, and now it's very likely he'll get much more than just 12 measly minutes.
There will be some considerable rust to shake off if he does get more playing time, but the transition will certainly be something he'll welcome.
And if he feels valued, his confidence will soar.