MarShon Brooks can flat-out score. The Celtics knew that when they drafted him in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft. They knew it when they immediately traded him for JaJuan Johnson and a second-round pick. And they still know it, obviously, after trading back for him as part of the blockbuster deal with the Nets earlier this month.
After Brooks had been officially introduced as a Celtic two weeks back, Keith Bogans, who accompanied Brooks in the trade from Brooklyn, sang his praises. Brooks and Bogans have battled in practice over the last two seasons, with Brooks as the gifted young scorer and Bogans as the tenacious old defender.
“I think MarShon Brooks is one of the most exciting young scorers you’ll see in your life,” Bogans said. “I’ve been teaching him to play a little bit of defense all year, but as far as offensively, when he gets that basketball, he’s hard to stop.”
The Celtics hope Brooks’ scoring ability blossom into more than just potential. He averaged 12.6 points per game as a rookie, albeit on a very bad team in New Jersey. His scoring average, in context, played out to only 15.5 points per 36 minutes — not bad, but not jaw-dropping stuff for a guy whose first, second and third most useful tools are putting the ball in the basket.
His average plummeted to 5.4 points per game last year and his playing time dropped to 12.5 minutes per game. Those decreases were to be expected with the arrival of Joe Johnson, but Brooks’ aversion to defense grated on Avery Johnson in a way it didn’t when losses were taken for granted. P.J. Carlesimo‘s leash was not much longer.
Brooks should have plenty of room to impress in Boston, even with the logjam at his position. Jordan Crawford is a similar shoot-first type, but his contract expires after this year while Brooks is under the Celtics’ control until 2015, so the team has more invested in Brooks long-term. Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee are probably better all-around players right now, but both have very different styles that could make Brooks a nice change-of-pace. Bogans sounds content to mentor and sit back while the youngsters apply what he’s taught.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge clearly liked Brooks enough to get him — twice — but for a “young” player he is two years older than Bradley and only three months younger than Crawford. Very few 24-year-olds suddenly discover their stride, but can Brooks be the exception? Vote in the poll below.
To kick off the official start of the NBA offseason, NESN.com will ask fans whether they think the Celtics should keep or move on from each player. The following day, we will provide the fans’ verdict. Here is the schedule*:
Monday, July 15: Rajon Rondo (Verdict: Keep him, 67 percent)
Tuesday, July 16: Courtney Lee (Verdict: Move on, 52 percent)
Wednesday, July 17: Shavlik Randolph (Verdict: Keep him, 60 percent)
Thursday, July 18: Jeff Green (Verdict: Keep him, 92 percent)
Friday, July 19: Gerald Wallace (Verdict: Keep him, 51 percent)
Monday, July 22: Kris Humphries (Verdict: Keep him, 53 percent)
Tuesday, July 23: Keith Bogans (Verdict: Keep him, 62 percent)
Wednesday, July 24: Fab Melo (Verdict: Keep him, 53 percent)
Thursday, July 25: Jared Sullinger (Verdict: Keep him, 98 percent)
Friday, July 26:
Monday, July 29: MarShon Brooks
Tuesday, July 30: Jordan Crawford
Wednesday, July 31:
D.J. White Phil Pressey
Thursday, Aug. 1: Colton Iverson
Friday, Aug 2: Kelly Olynyk
*Subject to change pending any moves