Once upon a time, MarShon Brooks was a mid-first round pick known for one particular set of skills: scoring. But he’s always known he could do more than that.
I watched him play extensively this season in person and on tape and I wonder if he’s going to be able to get away with some of the things that he did at Providence, the way he monopolizes the ball, his shot selection, the tunnel-vision he shows, the bad body language, the lack of enthusiasm for playing defense.
The two guard was a gunslinger, though, when he entered the league. And in an evolving NBA where if you can’t score efficiently then you better be a good passer or defender, it was almost inevitable that he’d struggle to find his place like so many before him. Being sent in a draft-day trade to a New Jersey Nets team that was one year removed from a historically putrid 12-win season certainly didn’t help his long-term development, but it did give Brooks room to stretch. He had plenty of chances to show off his offensive repertoire in his rookie campaign, playing just shy of 30 minutes and scoring 12.6 points a night. Brooks was named to the All-Rookie Second Team, despite his 12.9 PER and totaling just 13 more assists than turnovers.
In his second season, Brooks fell in and out of the rotation, suiting up for garbage time on certain nights but in others playing over 20 minutes. His three-point output and accuracy fell, and he was shipped off to the Boston Celtics in the wake of the 2013-14 season. He rarely played, spent a week in the D-League, and repeated the cycle in Golden State after a mid-season deal shipped him to the Bay Area.
Once more into the breach went Brooks, this time to Los Angeles, where he ended up playing just 12.7 minutes a night under Mike D’Antoni. Yet that small bit of time offered a glimpse at a new and improved MarShon Brooks across the board. Now comes Brooks’ 2014 Summer League stretch with the Sacramento Kings, which has reinforced the notion that he’s looking to be more than just a shooter.
“Just showing what I can do. Obviously coach Malone knows I can score at this level. I’m just trying to keep the ball in front, just play hard. That’s the main difference for me, just play hard, create extra possessions and at the same time just mentor these young guys,” said Brooks after his second outing in Vegas. “I think the main thing is they drafted two shooting guards the last few years, the main thing for me is to show the team that I support them and try to make them better, at the same time it’s going to make them better by competing against them as well.”
Brooks puts an emphasis on not only doing other things as a basketball player, but helping guide the young up-and-comers on their journeys. Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas – Sacramento’s first round picks of the past couple years – are both vying to make their presence felt by the Kings coaching staff, something Brooks is well aware of.
“Honestly [this year] is a lot different a situation. Last time I was starting, shooting about 20 times a game. I was the featured player, I was the draftee. So in this situation I got a different role, but I’m just going to continue to play hard,” Brooks said. And play hard he has in his limited showings. Brooks is averaging just 15 minutes of action in four contests, but has reeled in six rebounds per 30 minutes. He’s looked to score with more efficiency, including an emphasis on getting to the line. However, ask him to judge his performance thus far and you’ll learn he’s uninterested in his own successes. “Solid man, I just need to be more aggressive,” Brooks quickly said when asked to talk about his play. Perhaps here lies the biggest difference in Brooks from his rookie season. He gets it. Even if it won’t materialize on the court at a consistent level right away, Brooks understands just being able to score isn’t what makes it in the NBA today. It won’t secure him a roster spot on its own, but it’s a great place to start.