I remember sitting in the upper level of the Prudential Center for the 2011 NBA Draft, anxious to see what the Brooklyn (then-New Jersey) Nets would do with their draft pick. For about a decade, the only quality pick that the Nets had made was Brook Lopez. Keeping this in mind, I was curious to see if that year’s pick would turn out to impress like Lopez, or turn out to be the laughing stock of the NBA, like Sean Williams (only famous for throwing a computer at a store manager).
Considering the Nets’ bad luck, I was ambivalent as I awaited the Nets’ pick, which was set at 27. Obviously, I wasn’t expecting a superstar at pick 27, but was hoping that the Nets would get at least a solid backup. However, as history showed with the Nets, it was more likely that the team would draft a disappointing player than a promising one. Personally, as a big Duke Blue Devil fan, I was banking on the Nets getting Nolan Smith, but was let down when the Portland Trail Blazers took him at 21.
Looking back now, I sure am glad that the Nets didn’t end up with Nolan Smith.
What the Nets came out with at the end of draft night was a diamond in the rough, and a player that was surely more capable to produce than Nolan Smith.
I admit that I wasn’t entirely sure who MarShon Brooks was at the time the Nets drafted him, but I didn’t have to-Brooks made a name for himself right from the start.
It took Brooks just one week to score 100 points, and in six games, Brooks already had two 21 point performances. Brooks was no stranger to scoring big-25 PPG during his last season at Providence shows that. However, concerns with how Brooks’ game would translate from college to the NBA brought about problems and doubts.
Those same doubts were quickly cleared as Brooks consistently showed how valuable he was. Brooks’ niche for scoring, did, indeed carry over to the NBA, where he played well enough to be selected as one of the nine rookies to play in the annual All-Star week Rising Stars Challenge. Although Brooks finished the game with a quiet 8 points and 3 assists, it was evident that Brooks was truly a rising star.
The fact that nearly a year ago Brooks was six picks away from being a second-round pick is truly unfathomable. Brooks was able to blossom into a star this past season with the Nets and seemed to be a perfect fit.
Entering the 2012-2013 season as a projected backup for All-Star Joe Johnson, the Nets rival any other team in the league for the best shooting guard combo. Both Johnson and Brooks are natural scorers and will be a problem for anybody that the Nets matchup against.
If needed, Brooks could easily shift over to the small forward position and still be a good fit. With Deron Williams, Johnson, and Brooks all in the lineup at the same time, scoring would come very easily. However, questions about Brooks’ ability to guard bigger, stronger forwards, may arise. Although Brooks only stands at 6’5”, a ridiculous 7’1” wingspan would help Brooks hold up on defense.
All in all, Brooks is an extremely versatile player and has the ability to play many roles for the Nets this upcoming season.
Sixth man of the year? We’ll see.