If MarShon Brooks scores 34 points in an NBA Summer League game, does he make a sound?
That depends on who’s listening.
The casual basketball fan would say no, it’s freaking Summer League.
But coaches, GMs and observant fans understand that Brooks, like a teenager who ran out of ProActiv, is on the verge of a breakout.
The 6-5 guard has been a gifted scorer his entire life. He once put up 57 points in a 16-and-under AAU game and stunned the college basketball world by hanging a ridiculous 52 points on Notre Dame and 43 on Georgetown in 2011.
Brooks finished second in the nation in scoring that season, behind some guy named Jimmer Fredette.
But Brooks has remained under the radar, mostly because he’s played for teams that have been generally irrelevant – Providence College and the New Jersey Nets.
Now, as the Nets prepare to begin their run in Brooklyn, Brooks’ play may become impossible to ignore.
Brooks had a solid rookie season, finishing third in scoring among first-year players at 12.6 points per game and being named to the All-Rookie Second Team. He struggled to stay on the court at times, mostly because coach Avery Johnson was less than impressed with his defense.
But when he finally put it all together, Brooks was a revelation, playing well enough to be mentioned alongside Brook Lopez as one of Orlando’s must-have return pieces if a potential Dwight Howard trade.
With Howard now in Los Angeles, the Nets envision a future with Brooks filling it up alongside star guards Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.
Brooks will almost definitely come off the bench for Brooklyn this season. He has already stated that his goal is to win the Sixth Man Award.
“I think I can be a sparkplug for this team,” he said.
Despite the fact that he and Johnson possess admittedly similar skills on offense, Brooks believes he will be in position to knock down a few more spot-up jumpers and create when necessary.
This summer, Brooks followed his record-tying explosion by scoring 91 points in two games at the Dru Joyce summer league in Cleveland. Granted, it is easier to look like an All-Star in August than it is in February, but Brooks’ summer scoring binge has Nets fans thinking big.
He has been compared to scorers around the league, but the most appropriate may be Kobe Bryant (OK, Kobe Lite), simply because his moves perfectly mimic the man he grew up idolizing.
Watch Brooks go to work and you won’t have any trouble understanding the comparison. Every head fake, fadeaway jumper and jab-step drive to the hole seems Bryant-like.
Still, Brooks doesn’t put much stock in such comparisons.
“I don’t like to compare myself to Kobe, with all he’s done. I’m not nearly established enough in the game,” he said.
So why do others make that evaluation? “I don’t know,” Brooks said. “Maybe it’s the afro.”
If he has to be compared to someone, the 6-5 Brooks likes Jamal Crawford, a former Sixth Man Award winner.
Aside from lighting everyone up, Brooks spent his summer getting stronger – adding seven pounds of muscle to his slender 195-pound frame – and working on his defense. Agent Seth Cohen said his client is scheduled to tour Russia in September as part of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program.
“People around the NBA know his reputation as a great guy,” said Cohen, who runs Original Creative Representation. “That’s why they wanted him for this opportunity.”
It seems opportunities will be coming fast and furious for Brooks, who just might help transform Brooklyn into one of the league’s most exciting teams to watch.
“It’s going to be crazy. I’m very excited, I think the city is very excited as well,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of buzz in that arena, and I think we’re all looking forward to it.”