It doesn't seem like that long ago when MarShon Brooks was lighting up opposing defenses with the Providence Friars. That's because, well, it wasn't very long ago at all.
Brooks, a rookie guard who was drafted by the Boston Celtics and immediately traded to the New Jersey Nets, has come on strong through seven games, averaging 14.1 points and 3.4 rebounds. Twice this season, Brooks has scored 21 points and has totaled at least 17 points in a game five times.
On Wednesday night, Brooks started strong against the Boston Celtics, scoring 15 points in the first half and leading his Nets to a 35-34 lead at the break. Unfortunately, Brooks couldn't keep up his high level of playing. In the final half, Brooks scored just two points and left the game early in the fourth quarter. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
It wasn't entirely Brooks fault, as he suffered an ankle injury at the end of the first half.
"It happened at the end of the first half, I tried to hit the breaks and I turned m ankle a little bit and then in the second half I really came down on it tough," Brooks said. "I tried to shoot it off the glass and I came down on somebody's foot."
While the injury did hamper Brooks, he credited the Boston Celtics for making adjustments.
"Boston did a good job of adjusting at halftime and throwing some double teams at me," said Brooks. "It was my first time getting double teamed in this league so I didn't know how to get my shot off."
Somehow, it seems odd that Brooks is struggling with double teams. After all, he was surely the target of many a double team in college. Brooks had a memorable career at Providence, capped off by a prolific senior season in which he averaged 24.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 36.5 minutes per night. Nevertheless, Brooks will adjust.
"Double teams come from different angles in the NBA opposed to college so I have to learn how to attack the other way going away from the other team."
Even with his inexperience with NBA double teams, offense hasn't been a problem for Brooks.
"He knows where to go to get the ball in on offense," said Nets head coach Avery Johnson. "He figures out a way to get where he needs to be. But he's doing well. He's got a good head on his shoulders."
Looking back on Brooks' hot start with the Nets, it's only natural for Celtics fans to wonder what life could have been like if the team had kept Brooks, who they drafted at No. 25 overall and then traded to New Jersey for JaJuan Johnson.
Johnson hasn't been able to come close to matching Brooks' early success, as he's only averaging 1.3 points and 0.3 rebounds in five games. Against the Nets, Johnson played five minutes but didn't score or have any rebounds.
It's way too soon to tell, but it's looking like Danny Ainge may have lost out big time on that deal. As for Brooks himself, his future looks bright on a team that is only a few key pieces away from being a major factor in the Eastern Conference.