Don't Look Now, but Aaron Brooks Is a Valuable Houston Rockets Player Again

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIDecember 13, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 4: Aaron Brooks #0 of the Houston Rockets drives to the basket against the Phoenix Suns on December 4, 2013 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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It's been a long time since point guard Aaron Brooks averaged 19.6 points per game for the Houston Rockets in 2009-2010, but Brooks is still finding ways to be a valuable player for his team.

His newest role comes not as a primary scorer but as a reserve player, and he has embraced that role this season.

Prior to Houston's game on December 12 against the Portland Trail Blazers, Brooks was averaging 15.2 minutes, 7.1 points, 1.8 assists and 1.5 rebounds per contest. While that's not the flashy near-20 he averaged a few seasons ago, Brooks has gotten the job done when on the court.

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 11:  Jeremy Lin #7 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets celebrate as time winds down in the second overtime period during the game against the Toronto Raptors at Toyota Center on November 11, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE T
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With Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley almost always banged up in some capacity, Brooks has admirably stepped up into a bigger role. Initially pegged as the third-string point guard during training camp, Brooks has worked his way up the depth chart. Even when both Lin and Beverley are healthy, Brooks has earned himself the right to more minutes.

Head coach Kevin McHale has done a great job allowing Brooks to play to his strengths when on the court. He has always been a strong shooter from three, and that trend has continued this season. He's currently converting on 45.8 percent of his shots from deep, and McHale's ability to get him open looks on offense has been beneficial to all parties.

While Lin isn't a terrible shooter from long range, Brooks is the far superior option. Having perimeter shooters is important for the Rockets offense, as James Harden and Dwight Howard command far too many double-teams to not complement them with shooters on the outside.

When Harden is doubled on drives to the basket, he often dishes out into the corner and finds an open shooter. Chandler Parsons has been the primary guy to knock down a three from that spot, but Brooks is making his case for the most reliable shooter on the team.

Brooks also provides an energy that's nearly unmatched by his counterparts. Beverley is known as an energy guy who plays quality, aggressive defense, but Brooks doesn't have an "off" switch in terms of hustle and can run up and down the floor as many times as you ask him to.

Lin, who is a bit more lax as a player, tires a bit more quickly—not to say he's lazy. Using Beverley and then going straight to Brooks makes McHale's lineups and rotations much faster on the floor, which carries very well into their transition game.

After Omri Casspi, it's easy to argue that Brooks has been the most valuable bench player for the Rockets in the early going. He has consistently taken advantage of defenses and provided a spark to Houston that others haven't provided.

That actually makes him a decent trade chip, and general manager Daryl Morey could consider a deal when Lin and Beverley are both 100 percent healthy. Brooks could bring back a draft pick and might be able to bring in a power forward if packaged with Omer Asik.

Trading him may not be smart given Lin's and Beverley's propensity for injury, but it would hard to fault Morey if he could get something of value in return for his No. 3 point guard.

To call Brooks the saving grace for Houston this season would be a bit much, but Brooks has played exceptionally well during the opportunities he has been given. Re-signing him might easily turn into the value move of the offseason by Morey.