While Nets’ fans are understandably waiting and hoping for the arrival of Dwight Howard to ensure DWill stays a Net for the next 5 years, we should realize the team already has a key piece in place to make Deron want to be here. His name is MarShon Brooks. Brooks is lightening fast, plays above the rim, finishes very well at the basket, can spot up for the three, but most importantly of all, he flourishes in (and likes) the up-tempo game. These are all attributes which fit into the type of game I think DWill wants to play. I don’t claim MarShon will be a star player or even an all-star. This is more about the type of player DWill is and the game he wants to play.
I knew very little about Deron Williams before he was traded to the Nets and only saw him play a few games last year before the wrist injury shut him down, so I’m basing this on a rather thin reed. I think Deron is a player in the mold of Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and other NBA greats like Earl Monroe and Pistol Pete Maravich. That means while he can play the half court game, his game ascends to a very special place when he is on a break in the open court. I haven’t seen Deron play much so I’m going on a few nuggets like his arguments with Utah Coach Jerry Sloan about the team’s style of play. Remember Magic told the Lakers “basketball wasn’t fun anymore” under Coach Paul Westhead’s deliberate, half-court style of play. I think his reaching out to JKidd as a mentor about coming to the Nets is a revelation on a couple levels. First, Jason could talk about playing for the Nets and playing in New York. Second, playing for the Nets solidified JKidd as a Hall of Fame player. I believe, as a young player watching a master craftsman (Jason) doing magical things on the court with the Nets, a spark was lit in Deron that made him want to do similar things.
But what Jason had on the Nets roster when he arrived in 2001 was missing on last year’s team. Jason had Kerry Kittles, just like Magic had Byron Scott and Michael Cooper. Kittles, Scott and Cooper all had the same talents – they were greyhound fast, played above the rim and rarely missed (unless they were fouled) point-blank shots around the basket. They were the first running partners, respectively, for JKidd and Magic. Yet, none of those 3 players ever made the NBA all-star team. The spectacular, quick and easy baskets they scoured, accompanied by wild cheers from the fans, encouraged their larger teammates like Kmart and James Worthy to join the fun.
The Nets of 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 were every bit as exciting as the “Showtime” Lakers. As soon as the shot left an opposing player’s hand, Kittles and RJ were off to the races. Jason was like Joe Montana throwing td passes to Jerry Rice and John Taylor. Sometimes, it only took 1.4 seconds from rebound to basket. Add KMart on the break the Nets’ often had 6 or 7 quality “Top 10 plays of the night” in one game. On rare nights they could have provided all 10 plays. But, Jason was the maestro of it all. There was something about the open court which permitted him to express the full range of his genius. Who can ever forget the “bowling ball pass?”
MarShon Brooks is the one player the Nets now have who can be DWill’s partner in opening up the running game. He can run, likes to run and can finish. As he develops camaraderie with DWill in the open court, we’ll start to see other players getting in on the action to get easy baskets, highlights on ESPN and the wild cheers of the fans.
Tell me what you think.