Camp questions: Is MarShon Brooks part of the future?
"Camp questions"rolls on as we continue to blast our way through the Celtics roster. Can't stop, won't stop. Next up, the one piece of the Nets deal that may be part of the Celtics' future — MarShon Brooks.
About MarShon Brooks:
Brooks is actually in his 2nd stint with the Celtics..kind of. After a phenomenal senior season at Providence College, Brooks was drafted by the Cs with the 25th pick in the 2011 draft. Unfortunately, Danny Ainge then made the mistake of dealing Brooks to New Jersey for Jujuan Johnson and a 2014 2nd round pick. The deal immediately blew up in the Celtics' face as Brooks averaged 12.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 2.3 APG for the Nets during the 2011-12 season. Numbers that would have come in handy for a Celtics team who's bench ended up letting them down during the 2012 playoffs. Last season was a different story for Brooks, who's playing time was cut by more than half during the Nets run to the playoffs. In July he was dealt to the Celtics in the mega-deal that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets. You may have heard about it.
1. Will the Celtics pick up Brooks' option for the 2014-15 season?
It seems weird that the first question about Brooks is whether he'll be back next season, but in reality the Celtics need to answer this during training camp. The team has until October 31st to make a decision on Brooks (10/31 is the deadline to pick up 4th year player options), and lock in his $2.18 million salary for 2014-15. Unfortunately because of this the Celtics will need to make a decision on him before ever seeing him play a regular season game for the team (unless they wait until the last possible day..in which case they will get to see what he does opening night).
On the one hand, this seems like a no brainer for the Celtics. Brooks is only 24 years old and showed some promise as a rookie in 2011-12. Locking him in for just over $2 million seems like a solid bet in case he regains his rookie form and looks like a good bet to be a productive player next year.
Then again, the Celtics are currently paying a 4th year shooting guard with inefficiency problems just over $2 million (Jordan Crawford), and would seemingly like nothing more than to rid themselves of him. Therefore, Ainge and the rest of the front office are probably going to see how Brooks looks during the pre-season before making a decision on him. But the smart money is on that option being picked up.
2/3. Was Brooks really that good as a rookie? Was he really that bad last year?
Ok I'm cheating slightly by putting the last two questions into one..but I feel like this question is big enough to split into two.
One storyline with Brooks since the Celtics traded for him was that he was a big time performer as a rookie who's play fell off a ton during his Sophomore campaign. But I'm not so sure that is true. Sure, if you go by counting numbers, there was a huge disparity between 2011-12 and 2012-13. But when you look at his rate stats, you see something else.
For example, here's what Brooks did PER GAME over the past two seasons:
2011-12:29.4 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.3 APG
2012-13:12.5 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1 APG
So his playing time fell off a ton, and with it, his stats decreased accordingly. But how about on a per-minute basis? Here's a look at Brooks stats per-36 minutes.
2011-12: (per-36): 15.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.9 APG
2012-13: (per-36): 15.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.0 APG
Look familiar? They should, because on a per-minute basis Brooks was basically the same exact player last season.
Looking at it from another angle, Brooks' shooting percentages were similar as well.
2011-12: 42.8% FG/31.3% 3PT FG/76.4% FT
2012-13: 46.3% FG/27.3% 3PT FG/73.4% FT
He shot a little better from in close and a little worse from deep..but there really wasn't a dip in efficiency.
So we have the impression that he was a stud as a rookie who fell off last year simply because his playing time dipped. So why did it dip? Easy, the Nets acquired Joe Johnson from the Hawks and he immediately started playing 37 minutes per game. Considering Brooks can't really play point guard or small forward, this cut off his ability to play. The result was a dip in playing time from over 29 minutes per night down to just 12 last season.
So it's not that Brooks was bad last year, he was quite adequate. But he also wasn't quite as good as people made him out to be during his rookie season.
In reality, we have a guy who thus far has performed at close to league average on a per-minute basis in each of his first two NBA seasons. And that's just about exactly what I'd expect out of him again this year.