The revitalization of MarShon Brooks’ career began the moment he became the “other guy” in the deal that brought Jordan Crawford to the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 15.
While that trade accomplished exactly what the Warriors needed to do the most—finding in Crawford a capable backup for Stephen Curry—it also filled a void that had become a glaring weakness as the season progressed: bench scoring.
For all of his deficiencies—and there are many of them—the one thing Brooks does well is score. Fortunately for Brooks, he joins a bench unit that just might be the worst in the NBA at putting the ball in the hole.
The Warriors rank last in the NBA in bench scoring at 22.8 points per game, field-goal percentage at 38.7 and assists at just 3.9. With a plus-minus that comes in at negative-1.8, the fifth-worst mark in the league, it was abundantly clear that they needed reinforcements.
That’s where Brooks comes in.
He does have value, however, especially on this Warriors team. Too often the Warriors have seen leads dissipate when the starters take a break. The ball movement stagnates, guys are seen standing around and desperation heaves at the end of the shot clock have become all too common.
Brooks is the easy remedy to those problems. He might not always take the best shot, but at least you know that he’s taking it confidently. The ball might not move past his hands, but it will at least make its way to the rim.
Although the Warriors could very well waive Brooks before the Feb. 20 trade deadline, they should do so only after giving him a chance to succeed. While Brooks hasn’t exactly lit the NBA world on fire since being drafted in 2011, he has shown that he can be a potent scorer in the league, as this video shows.
As a rookie coming out of Providence, Brooks was able to post an average of 12.6 points per game for the then-New Jersey Nets. The key was that he was given 29.4 minutes of court action.
While he will never get that much action on this Warriors team, allowing him to be the focal point of the bench unit could be the secret to finding his stroke. Energy players like Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore are nice, but they can’t create their own offense.
As the NBA has shown over the years, having a guy that can come in to provide a spark is vital to winning. The Miami Heat have Ray Allen, the San Antonio Spurs used Manu Ginobli in that roll for years and Jason Terry filled the void for both the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics.
While it would be foolish to compare Brooks to any of those established stars, he can hold his own when given the chance. And that will be the key going forward. If he doesn’t receive meaningful minutes, Mark Jackson will never see what he has in Brooks.
The starters for the Warriors have had to play far too many minutes this season, something that could prove costly down the road. With the inconsistent play of the guys on the bench, Jackson hasn’t had much of a choice but to play them big minutes.
The acquisition of Crawford and Brooks will allow Jackson ample opportunity to cut down on those starters' minutes. Under the former point guard's coaching and tutelage, Brooks should flourish. All that remains to be seen is whether or not Jackson has the resolve to allow his newfound talent the opportunity to thrive.
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