As the Nets’ scheduled 2011 Draft selection approached at No. 27, capable scorers kept sliding down the board. When MarShon Brooks proved available at 25, they made their move, sealing a trade with the Boston Celtics. General Manager Billy King acquired the Providence guard in exchange for No. 27 pick JaJuan Johnson and a 2014 Second-Round draft choice.
“Generally, you’re on the phone, and you say, ‘If our guy is still there, we will do this deal.’” King explained. “And when you find out the pick before, you know it’s okay and we will do this deal. Once they made the pick for us, there was a lot of applause in the room.”
Brooks, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound guard fulfills two immediate needs on the wing: athleticism and scoring. The incumbent starter at shooting guard, Anthony Morrow, is a deadeye marksman (.447 career 3P%) who plays hard, but lacks explosiveness; at small forward, Damion James is a rough-and-tumble bruiser more prolific on defense and the boards.
Improving as a scorer each season at Providence, Brooks upped his average more than 10 points in his final season, dropping 24.6 points on the heads of Big East defenses renowned for restricting scoring totals. And he remained efficient (.483 FG%) despite often facing multiple defenders.
“At Providence, I had to do a lot of scoring for our team,” Brooks said, via conference call. “When I got the ball, everybody knew where I was going, because, in a way, I had to. I was one of the only scorers that was relevant at the time, because I had such a young team. All these numbers I was putting up was with two or three people on me. I feel like if I could just play, and (with) Deron Williams, the best point guard in the league, if I can get some open shots, I’ll adapt very well.”
The Nets are hoping he also does on defense, where he wields the athleticism and instincts – averaging 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals last year – to irritate opposing teams if he commits himself. Coach Avery Johnson is a big proponent of defensive effort, and he’ll be looking for Brooks and fellow rookie Jordan Williams (No. 36 overall; sixth in the 2nd Round) to provide exactly that.
Williams, a sophomore out of Maryland, averaged 16.9 points and 11.3 rebounds in 32.5 minutes per game. That rebounding total led the ACC and was good for third in the nation. And his stock increased after shedding significant weight and sculpting his body as he prepared for the draft.
“Jordan Williams is a banger, a rebounder,” Johnson said. “Rebounding is a big part of finishing your defense, and we were around 15 in defensive rebounding last year, and that’s not good enough. So we feel we’ve addressed some needs.”
The Nets drafted now-Wizards guard Jordan Crawford No. 27 last year, but traded him – along with No. 31 pick Tibor Pleiss – to Atlanta for Damion James. In three previous drafts, they selected Yvon Joseph (1985), John Best (1993) and Soumalia Soumake (2000) with No. 36 overall.
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