I keep forgetting that MarShon Brooks was in The Trade and will (apparently) be introduced as a Boston Celtic today. He's kind of the forgotten man in all of this yet, as Forsberg points out, he might be the one with the best chance of sticking on this team for the long haul. He immediately joins the ranks of Bradley, Sullinger, and Olynyk as "young guys with upside potential."
That's not to say that he's a sure thing though. In fact, of those mentioned, I have the least amount of confidence in his ability to take the leap into "rotation player on a decent team." Right away I know that I'll be chastised by a certain percentage of the Celtics fan population for not having enough faith in him. Which is fine. I'll be happy to be proven wrong (or overly cautious as the case may be - I'm not saying that he can't be good, just that I'm skeptical).
I'll go ahead and predict that Brooks will become the new Gerald Green around here. Not that he'll be blowing out candles on cupcakes while dunking in mind-numbing dunk contests or forgetting his clothes in random cities. Just that there will be a polarized fanbase split on their opinions of him. He's either bound to be the next great thing or a complete waste of space, depending on who you ask (with precious little space for grey area opinion between those poles).
Those with a negative opinion have cold hard stats to back up their stance.
Brooklyn fans labeled him a ball hog who went isolation too often (mind you, this is a fan base that watches Joe Johnson on a nightly basis) and would suggest that Brooks is an inefficient scorer who brings little else to the table. The advanced stats back up their claim. Brooks averaged 0.88 points per play last season, ranking in the 44th percentile, according to Synergy Sports data. And the downturn in minutes can't be blamed; he averaged 0.858 points per play and was in the 43rd percentile in his rookie campaign. Defensively, he allowed 0.921 points per play (23rd percentile). He doesn't rebound well and his turnovers can be unsightly.
Meanwhile, stats mean nothing to those that believe that he was simply in the wrong situation and not yet ready for prime time. Players absolutely can get off to a poor start and find new life in a new situation. That seems to be the hope for MarShon. (See this analysis from a NetsDaily blogger.)
The book on Brooks is that he's a one-dimensional player, a true scorer who at times reminded (still, reminds...) some of a young Kobe Bryant. Minus, of course, the heart, desire, skill-set, pedigree, championship rings, first-ballot Hall of Fame-iness, etc. Brooks can score, yes, and his turnaround jumper looks -- emphasis on "looks" -- a lot like Kobe's, but he's no Kobe Bryant. That said, he's an effective, at times less-than-efficient scorer who needs to be coached. In his rookie season he played well for a very bad New Jersey Nets team. They set him free, starting him 47 times as a rookie, and at times he actually led the team in scoring (finishing with 12.7 points per on 43.7 percent shooting). And while he showed signs, he certainly had bouts of immaturity -- on the basketball court, not off it. Then, in his second season, playing for a better Brooklyn Nets team, he couldn't get into a rhythm on the basketball court because he wasn't locked into the rotation. Somewhere along the way both Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo fell "out of love" with Brooks. He struggled with rhythm, and thus couldn't work his way back into the rotation. I believe, if coached properly, Brooks can be a very good basketball player, more so on the offensive side of the ball than defensively. Celtics fans will be frustrated at times with his boneheaded plays, but at other times it's possible that Brooks leads the team in scoring on a given night. The key is to remain patient, which is probably going to be the M.O. in Boston over the next season or two, but Brooks has the given ability to be a very good scorer, he just needs to be coached on defense and to keep his head in the game at all times.
So this appears to be one of the first big tests of Brad Stevens' pro career. Can he take a talent like Brooks and coach him up to being a useful rotation player and/or tradable asset? Can he succeed where Johnson and Carlesimo failed?
The worst secret in basketball at the trade deadline (and perhaps well before that) was that the Nets were willing to send out Humphries (short term salary match), Brooks, a pick, and filler for another team's unwanted star. That package was offered for Pierce and they were turned down at the time. They finally got the Celtics to bite this offseason. Those dynamics aside, it was clear that the Nets saw Brooks as an expendable piece and other teams were not exactly breaking down their door to get their hands on him.
This is Brooks' big opportunity at a fresh start. He's got the tools to become a very good NBA player. The Celtics might have just found a diamond in the rough. Can Stevens and his staff polish up this stone and make it shine? Or will it turn out to be fools gold? (Not my best analogy, but I guess it will serve for now)
So what are your thoughts on Brooks? Future star? Future roster cut? Somewhere in between? Give us your take on this new Celtic.