Tbird 2011 NBA draft analysis #10: Marshon Brooks
Written by thunderbird1245
Less than 100 hours away from NBA, I present the 10th write up in this 2011 draft series, and in depth profile of Providence high scoring wing man Marshon Brooks. Previously 9 deep analysis pieces have been written this year, among them Alec Burks, Tristan Thompson, Chris Singleton, and Marcus Morris…..you can read those articles plus the 5 additional breakdowns elsewhere on this site.
Brooks has moved up draft boards during the workout season, after having a very good statistical year playing for the doormat of the Big East Conference, the Providence Friars. Certainly Brooks put up gaudy numbers, scoring huge amounts of points against some of the countries best teams….including scoring over 50 points in a 2 point loss the Mike Brey’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Measuring in at the NBA combine at 6’5″ 1/4, Brooks has legitimate NBA wing size, especially when you factor is his freakish wingspan of 7’1.* He weighs a rather spindly 195lbs, though he looked stronger just with the eye test than some of his other wing counterparts in this draft. Likely however he will need to gain a few pounds, and he appears to have a frame that will be able to do that as time goes on. Brooks clearly passes the eyeball test, and looks the part of an NBA basketball player.
One interesting tidbit: To my knowledge, Brooks will be the only player in the NBA whose mother is a professional referee……his mother is a long time basketball official, now employed by the WNBA.
As the second leading scorer in NCAA basketball, Brooks clearly proved that in his senior season at Providence than he can score the ball, averaging 24.5 ppg. However, as with all scorers, it is important to breakdown just how those points were achieved, so we can try and figure out how his game will translate at the next level.
Providence gave Brooks more responsibility and freedom on offense than any player I have ever broken down in my years of doing these draft profiles for Pacersdigest. Providence loved to just clear a side or the top, give Brooks the basketball, and spread the floor and let him do his thing. Certainly little to no complexity in the Friars attack, the just dumped the ball to Brooks and hoped for the best.
That didn’t lead all that often to a “blow by” situation even at the college level. More often than not it led instead to some very difficult contested jump shots off the dribble, some of which Brooks made but more often than you’d like he would miss, as he actually didn’t seem to be that accurate off the dribble as a pull up shooter. His mechanics in this situations were somewhat amiss, as he had a very difficult time getting his upper body and lower body in synch with one another. That led to alot of spectacular looking makes but led to even more misses….and let me tell you, when Brooks missed he was missing badly. No player probably tossed up more bricks this season that Brooks. When he misses, he misses horribly. Yet, he does have a nice touch on his shot and a good high release, so the problem isnt isn’t upper shot form, instead it is a matter of really bad balance with his legs and the fact that he takes an extraordinarily high number of really bad shots that he never will be allowed to shoot at the NBA level. So clearly the way to guard Brooks was to force him outside his comfort zone, make him bounce it, then work hard to stay in front of him and make him take a tough pull up jumper…..which he was anxious to do. Those misses often led to fast break points the other way, as Providence was really bad defensively in transition and often had bad floor balance when Brooks would take all of those ill advised shots…..one of the main reasons that their coach got fired after going 4-14 in conference.
Brooks has speed with the basketball in open court situations, but he isn’t quick or that explosive on his first step in an attack dribble move….he is like a car with really high top end speed but that takes a while to get started. That usually leads to not being able to clear his own man enough to get all the way by him, especially against high level athletes. And he is not a high flyer, we won’t be a guy who dunks alot or flies high above the rim on drives. Instead, he will have to rely on more savvy moves, being able to put up little floaters and off balance running shots to get by. He is good enough to make those shots at Providence, but can he make them at the NBA level? That will be the question.
You rarely see Brooks coming off a hard cut to get the basketball, nor did you see him receiving alot of basic basketball screen actions….he wasn’t asked to come off pin downs, staggered screens, cross screens, flare screens, or anything else that would be considered basic basketball at most programs. And despite being considered a really good off the dribble player, you also rarely see Providence set any ball screens for their best player, an oddity considering that the ball screen has made a huge come back at the lower levels of basketball in the past few years. Now, despite getting fired, the Providence coaches had had success at other levels and at other schools, so they aren’t stupid people. I think the question has to be asked about why they used Brooks the way they did. It did help him put up good numbers, but it didn’t help them win……..so what were the reasons they used him so clearly as a pure isolation guy?
Brooks clearly didn’t play well without the ball at all. He stood, failed to move, didn’t set up cuts well, and seemed to always read screens pretty poorly, on the rare occasion he received one. Providence also didn’t seem to run very many complex set plays in order to make Brooks harder to guard, or to try and improve his judgment or their floor balance or to get others involved.
My theory is, and it is only a theory based on how they played on tape and how Brooks seemed to play in general, is that he has a tough time processing information, struggles to remember complex plays or systems, and basically isn’t an overly smart and savvy basketball player. Instead, I am guessing their coaches used him they way they did because after he had been on campus for 4 years, they knew that was the only way he’d be successful…..and as their best player they chose to plan around him rather that their younger guys….a decision that led them to last place and got them canned, though it also apparently will prepare Marshon Brooks to the first round of the NBA draft.
I would like to give you a breakdown of all of the great reads, great passes, or great decisions Marshon Brooks made that I saw on tape. However, the words “pass” and “Marshon Brooks”, don’t go together that well. When he drove, Brooks was going to take a shot of some kind, there was just no doubt about it. He was capable of getting incredibly hot at times, but for a guy who drove that often you’d think at least a few times he would’ve drawn defenders to him and dished to another player for an easy basket….but you certainly don’t see that on film. Now I realize Providence might not have been that good, but what I saw is a player with total tunnel vision with the basketball, who had a tough time seeing and planning for secondary defenders when they helped to him….a guy who didn’t understand where his teammates would be and how to get the ball to them. I don’t know if it was complete selfishness on his part, I just thought I saw someone who didn’t quite understand the best way to attack a defense in a 5 on 5 situation. Again, not saying Brooks wasn’t good enough to score anyway sometimes, because he did….but his missed horrible shots and bad decisions cost his team as many points going to the other end just as much as he scored himself. Brooks turned it over more than he assisted in college, and as scouting gets more intense and the defenders more athletic, I question whether that will improve any at the next level.
I did like the short memory he had, and the willingness to always take shots no matter what had happened before. His self confidence oozes out of him, and he clearly is a kid who doesn’t get down on himself. But I didn’t see alot of togetherness on his college team, not alot of huddling or talking to his teammates or encouraging them or whatever, another symptom of a team who struggled. He wasn’t willing or didn’t seem capable of doing whatever it took to win a game, instead I saw a guy who much of the time played like “Me-Shon” instead of “Marshon”. Keep in mind that Brooks was a senior leader on this team, not a young freshman or sophomore…..and I do have to factor that in my evaluation.
Brooks will need to make a major adjustment to his way of thinking and playing at the NBA level offensively, but he clearly has 2 major NBA ready skills.
One his ability to catch and shoot in a spot up situations. Brooks was good in transition just rising up and taking the quick 3 point shot, and I also believe that if/when he plays with better talent that he can be a very good spot up guy in halfcourt draw and kick situations.* I don’t think he will be a player, despite all the reports we are reading, that you can ever run plays for to score…..I just don’t see the complexity in his reading screens, the ability to play the screen/roll game, and I have questions that his one on one game will be good enough at this level. But I do believe he can be a very good shooter for someone, as long as all he is asked to do is get in position and be ready to fire. To me he clearly needs a creator around him to help him get those type of shots more often. If he does, I think he can score in this league, but I don’t see him being to score points THE SAME WAY he did at Providence…..his game is going to need to morph into something else entirely. But his ability to shoot can’t be questioned….love the high release, footwork, and follow thru especially. Add those good fundamentals to a guy who clearly has no conscience and you might have something there eventually, as long as he plays within his own skill set.
The other skill that is NBA ready I think is his ability to rebound from the wing position, IF he dedicates himself to being that good at that in the league. He has really good hands, and his amazing length should make him a very good defensive rebounder for his position in the future. Now keep in mind that his numbers are somewhat inflated at Providence, due to the lack of any one else they had with any talent, and also the fact that their pace of play was so really fast. There were more rebound chances and opportunities in a Providence College game than 95% of the teams you’d see play. Still, his gifts are too good to be ignored on the glass, and as long as his effort level stays the same on the boards when he doesn’t get to dominate the ball offensively, then he should be above average as a rebound guy for a “2″ in this league.
Was Brooks a lockdown defender at Providence? Clearly not. But he does have enough athletic gifts that he should be better than he has proven so far. Providence played little defense in general, and when they did you saw alot of attempted full court pressure and halfcourt zone defense. So they clearly played a style that wasn’t conducive to winning.
I saw a guy in Brooks who has really good top end speed, but not super great lateral quickness. Can he be improved in that area, time will tell. My guess is that Brooks will do fine defending the ball when his man isolates against him, but will struggle to get around screens, struggle in help defense and in more complex defensive systems. He will be a guy who gambles alot and gets some steals, and his length should let him be above league positional average in blocks per minutes. I can see him having some good stats, but when digging deeper I am not sure I see the consistent effort or aptitude to make his team any better defensively when he is on the floor. He really seemed to struggle to “defend his gap”, and screens really bothered him. And when his man screened someone else, Brooks didn’t show any real energy or desire to hedge out, bump cutters, or do anything but play individual defense. Whether that shows a lack of effort or lack of sheer basketball understanding (that is my guess from afar) is hard to say.
So what do we have in Marshon Brooks?
What I think we have is a player with a scorer’s mentality, who takes bad shots and doesn’t always play the game with intelligence and savvy. But he also plays with a striking self confidence and short memory, which is appealing in its own right. I think we see a player who will have one of the bigger learning curves and adjustments to the league than the other perimeter players likely to be drafted in the first round. I think we have a kid whose main strengths won’t be as good with the upgrade in competition, but who has enough talent and charisma to re invent himself in the right situation as a creative second unit scorer, scoring in a multitude of ways if he is willing to put the work in and change his game somewhat.* I severely* question his overall basketball IQ and vision/awareness levels, and the fact that he put up alot of numbers as a chucker on a bad team goes against him in my scouting mind….especially when he did it as a senior playing against mostly underclassmen. I see a guy who has some serious adjustments to make in his level of concentration and in his preparation and overall knowledge of how to play and win and be a professional. When you listen to an interview and hear him constantly refer to himself in the third person ( a trait I absolutely hate when people do it), I wonder if he will ever “get it”.
The big scouting debate you hear going on right now is the huge battle between players who play the same position…guys like Alec Burks, Klay Thompson, and Marshon Brooks. Rumor is that Brooks is killing those other 2 in workouts in each city, a major reason why his stock is rising all over the league.
But to me, those 1 on 1, 2 on 2, or 3 on 3 workouts are very misleading. I don’t have much doubt that in a scrimmage situation where there is no crowd, no teamwork, no plays to remember, no scouting reports, and no referees that Brooks likely is the more impressive player than Burks or Thompson. He is more athletic and more aggressive than both of them at this point. But while I believe those 2 kids can play the same style of basketball they played in college (and just need to improve their weaknesses and get stronger), Brooks will need to be much more adaptable than they will. I just don’t see that as anywhere near as likely to happen.Plus, when you consider that he is quite a bit older than those 2 players, to me picking Burks or Thompson over him seems to be a no brainer.
So what will Indiana do at #15 with Marshon Brooks?
Despite what the pundits are reporting, I believe Indiana will pass on Marshon Brooks. I just have a hard time believing that one of the most savvy, intelligent, best passers, and player with maybe thew best anticipation and court vision of any player in the history of the game will select a player like Marshon Brooks. Brooks has talent and I think he will stick in the league for a few years, but I think Indiana should and will pass. We will find out if I am correct on Thursday night. Of course, in the unlikely event that every other single player I like better is gone, then I’d go ahead and take him…..but I think there will players in this draft available that I like better when we are on the clock.
So where does Brooks end up instead?
To me, he would fit best in the high tempo, open court style of play. That to me is just screaming 2 locations for him to be selected, which are Minnesota at #20 and Denver at #22.* I think Chicago at #28 would love to have him as well, and might even package #28 and #30 to move up a little bit to try and snag him. My guess is he ends up with one of those 3 teams.
Current NBA comparable: slightly bigger and longer armed Jodie Meeks
Past NBA comparable : Any thoughts?
As always, the above is just my opinion.