"Last season, MarShon Brooks was an essential part of the Nets offense. Despite being a rookie, Brooks became the team’s second scoring option — behind only Deron Williams— when a pair of foot injuries forced Brook Lopez to miss virtually the entire year.
So it’s not surprising that Brooks has gone through an adjustment period early in training camp as he goes up against six-time All-Star Joe Johnson in practice every day, and is no longer a focal point of the offense.
'He had a good practice yesterday … but he struggled a little bit early on, and I understand why,' Nets coach Avery Johnson said... He’s playing against Joe Johnson every day. He’s going against [Josh] Childress and Gerald Wallace. They’re bigger, they’re stronger, they’re just as athletic, they have more experience.'
Brooks said he has been up to the challenge of going up against bigger and stronger players on the wings every day at practice.
'It’s fun. It’s a challenge every single day,' he said. 'I think everybody’s got their hands full on this team. Every single day you come to practice, if you don’t come with it you’ll get your [butt] busted.'"
I’m glad to see that Brooks seems to accept his new role but is still working hard to earn playing time. He wound up starting 47 games last season and averaging 12.6 points per game as a rookie during the lockout-shortened year, but the second-year player isn’t letting his rookie success get to his head.
Joe Johnson is a perennial All-Star at shooting guard, and Brooks can learn much from the former Atlanta Hawk. A reserve role may also be better for Brooks, since he went through spurts last season of providing instant offense off the bench.
Of course, fatigue and injuries are always an issue for NBA teams, and now that we’re back to a full schedule, Avery Johnson should call Brooks’ number frequently this season. Though Brooks will likely serve as the team’s sixth man, his role will certainly be more limited than it was last year.
Patience will be important for the 23-year-old. Last year, the Nets were heavily entrenched in the rebuilding phase, so the first-round pick was able to play through his rookie mistakes with little pressure. However, now that the team is rebuilt, Brooks must realize that this is Deron Williams and Joe Johnson’s team, and that he will probably have less opportunities than he did last season.
Based on his promising talent, we may someday be calling the team the “Brooks'-Lyn” Nets. But for now, he’ll be a key role player on a team with high expectations.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.