BOSTON (CBS) — It’s rare to see a promising young player get traded from a playoff team to a rebuilding squad and end up with less playing time on their new team. Unfortunately for MarShon Brooks, that’s exactly the conundrum he has found himself in this season with the new-look Boston Celtics.
The 24-year-old guard out of Providence College came over to Boston from the Brooklyn Nets in the blockbuster mega-deal between the two franchises over the summer. His inclusion in the deal was primarily an afterthought; Brooks was a pawn who helped make the salaries match up between the teams so the trade would go through.
Acting as a throw-in during a trade is a far cry from where Brooks was early in his career. As a rookie for a bad New Jersey Nets team in 2011-12, the shooting guard started 47 games and averaged 12.6 points per contest, impressive numbers for a late first-round draft pick.
Those numbers started to fall last year however, as Brooks was relegated to the bench and saw his minutes drop from 29.4 to 12.5 per game.
Now, facing a contract year in Boston, Brooks is waiting patiently for his chance amid an incredibly crowded Celtics’ backcourt. He’s competing for playing time against a host of young shooting guards in Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford. Brooks finished behind all three in Brad Stevens’ rotation out of training camp and has spent the majority of the young season watching his new team from the bench.
“It’s been challenging,” Brooks acknowledged. “I just have to be professional and come to work every day and understand that I’m blessed. I have the opportunity to play in the NBA. When I get my opportunity, I’m going to try to make the most of it. Just do what I do.”
The third-year guard has played just six games and a whopping 41 minutes overall during his brief time with the C’s. That lack of playing time has led to understandable whispers of Brooks’ discontent. The guard has brushed off any speculation that he wants to be dealt away for the chance to play somewhere else.
“It’s way too early for that,” he said. “I trust Brad Stevens. He told me I’m going to get my opportunity, so I’m just waiting on my opportunity, honestly.”
That opportunity may be coming sooner than later for a Celtics’ team that is struggling mightily on the offensive end most nights. Boston ranks 26th in the NBA in offensive efficiency, and they have just a couple of players capable of creating their own shots effectively. Stevens acknowledged that he may turn to Brooks shortly for some help in that department.
“We could [play Brooks],” Stevens continued, “I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen at some point. I think the reason is because he’s a guy who can score it and his attitude has been so good.”
Brooks showed a little flash of that offensive potential in the closing moments of the Celtics’ loss to Milwaukee Saturday night. He posted a quick four points in just four minutes of action, and Stevens admitted after the game he wished he had turned to Brooks a bit sooner for some offense.
With some regular offensive reps in the team’s rotation in the coming weeks, the former Net is hoping he’ll continue to make strides.
“When you don’t play for a while,” Brooks said, “you want to do too much. You want to come in there and make an impression. So I’m just trying to come in there and play team ball, play solid and pick my spots.”
Stevens has appreciated the patience Brooks has shown while waiting his turn as well.
“I think he’s been good. He’s been very positive. He’s had a good way about him the whole time. He’s a guy that can come in and impact your team. He was sitting over there ready the other night. You could see it. He did a nice job while he was in,” Stevens said.
With Lee (sprained knee) expected to be available off the bench tonight, the backcourt becomes crowded yet again for Stevens, potentially pushing Brooks back to the bench.
My guess, though, is that we see Brooks get another chance in the coming days. Rajon Rondo’s impending return later this month means there will be far fewer opportunities for playing time on the horizon. Brooks needs to show what he can do now, before Rondo comes back, and Stevens will give him that shot.
It’s up to Brooks to see if he can make anything of it.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
MORE SPORTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON