Back in April, the shooting guard position was probably considered the thinnest position in the 2011 NBA Draft by a fairly wide margin. However, as the scouting process has continued, both through continued review of game tapes and pre-draft workouts, opinion around the two-guard has become more positive. The headliners of the group are clearly Colorado’s Alec Burks and Providence’s Marshon Brooks (no offense Klay).
Both played in similar situations this past year, playing for traditionally middle-of-the road programs while being the first, second, and possibly third option on the offensive end of the floor. Burks probably had a bit more talent around him and was also helped out by playing in a league that was not the Big East; thus, Colorado won quite a few more games than Providence. Still, Burks certainly was the driving force behind one of the most successful seasons that his former program has had in some time. Brooks did not enjoy the same type of success when it came to wins and losses, but he certainly made a name for himself, leading the Big East in scoring at just under 25 per game. His 52-point performance in a loss to Notre Dame was one of the more impressive efforts in a loss in quite some time.
Mock drafts have these guys all over the place. Burks has widely been rated a little bit better of a prospect, but Brooks has made a charge of late, gaining “sleeper” status by many draft pundits. Giblin and I are going to figure out who we’d rather have on our squad and where the best landing spots for each might be.
Marshon Brooks, Providence
What He Brings: Brooks is a cold-blooded scorer, plain and simple. That was evidenced by his gaudy numbers scoring numbers despite having virtually no one around him who could take the pressure off while at Providence. The Big East may not have had the most NBA talent of all the conferences, but make no mistake: it was the toughest conference in the country in 2010-2011. For Brooks to put up the numbers he did, night-in and night-out, basically by himself in a conference that good is almost astonishing. Granted, it did not result in many W’s for the Friars, which could be a concern, but he kept them in plenty of games in which they probably should have been blown out. He scored 28 in a four-point loss to Pitt, 43 in a two-point loss to Georgetown, and 52 in a one-point loss to Notre Dame, just to name a few.
Jimmer Fredette gets all the publicity, but for my money I’ll take Marshon Brooks as the best scoring guard in this draft. If he had played in the Mountain West conference like Fredette did, who knows what kind of numbers he could have put up. Beyond just his scoring, he also chipped in seven rebounds per contest. His turnover numbers were higher than anyone would have liked (3.1 per game), but given how much was asked of him, how often he had the ball in his hands, and how little his help he got from his teammates, I think you can let that number slide a bit.
It is very possible that Brooks could have been the best player in the Big East, but we just didn’t know it because he was buried on a bad team. At 6’5″ 190 pounds, Brooks brings excellent size to the off-guard position, and he has a crazy 7’1″ wingspan on top of that. Athleticism is not a problem either. The only question will be how Brooks, like Fredette, adjusts to not being the only offensive option on the court for his NBA team. Can he become more of a playmaker rather than just a pure scorer? If teams are convinced that he can do that, look for him to move into the lottery as the draft nears.
Possible Landing Spots: Charlotte Bobcats (9th pick, 19th pick), Milwaukee Bucks (10th pick), Utah Jazz (12th pick), Indiana Pacers (15th pick), Washington Wizards (18th pick), Minnesota Timberwolves (20th pick), Portland Trail Blazers (21st pick), Denver Nuggets (22nd pick)
Ideal Fit: Brooks has been a conundrum for mock drafters. His stock is undoubtedly rising, but he could go any number of places. As is often the case, much of it will depend on how the top of the draft shakes out. Utah is a definite possibility at 12, and if they choose Brandon Knight with their third pick, pairing the two young guards to grow and develop together would be an enticing possibility.
With all that being said, I think the Washington Wizards present the ideal fit for Marshon Brooks. With Nick Young entering free agency, the Wizards will have a need at the two-guard spot, and Brooks can come in and play right away. Washington has a point guard in place in John Wall who can make plays and set his teammates up–he is the type of unselfish point guard who would be perfect for Brooks to saddle up with. In short, Brooks could be a similar type of player to Young, but has a much higher upside. The question will be whether or not he is available that late.
Alec Burks, Colorado
What He Brings: Like Brooks, Alec Burks is a scorer and an elite one at that. And while it took Brooks four years to really figure it out (3.4 ppg as a freshman), Burks was an efficient scorer from the day he stepped on campus averaging over 17 points a his first season in Boulder and improving that total to over 20 points a game this past season. His ability to penetrate and finish destroyed teams all year. Just check out his explosion in this drill.
Burks and Brooks have almost identical size (~6-5/6-6, 190-5 lbs., 7 foot wingspan) and Burks himself ripped down 6.5 boards a game. But Burks was able to have big games against big competition and lead his teams to wins not close losses. Picking up garbage points when your team is down 20 already doesn’t do much for me. Maybe Colorado had a little more talent, but not much (no more than 15 wins in their previous four seasons). Burks had 36 against Mizzou and 33 against Texas in huge wins for the Buffaloes. Not to mention they beat Kansas State 3 times.
What you are going to hear about Burks ad-nauseum leading up to the draft is how he needs to improve his jump shooting. And when you shoot under 30% from 3-pt, the criticism is much deserved. But I see it as a positive- he was still able to score without a consitent outside shot against some of the best teams in the Big XII. Defenders could back off of Burks, and he was still able to get to the bucket and score. His ability to get to the rim and draw contact translates very well to the ticky-tack officiating of the NBA these days. And remember, Derrick Rose didn’t have a good jumpshot in college and he turned out ok?
Possible Landing Spots: Detroit Pistons (8th pick), Charlotte Bobcats (9th pick, 19th pick), Milwaukee Bucks (10th pick), Utah Jazz (12th pick), Indiana Pacers (15th pick), Washington Wizards (18th pick), Minnesota Timberwolves (20th pick)
Best Fit: Unlike Brooks, Burks is young (relatively) and has more potential. A year coming off the bench as the penetrating slasher for the second unit would not be a bad situation for Burks as a rookie. This would allow him time to work on developing his jump shot without being hammered by the media for not producing as a rookie.
I ‘ve said before that the best, and very likely, situation for Burks is with Milwaukee at number 10. The Bucks are kind of overloaded in wing players with John Salmons, Corey Maggette, and Carlos Delfino; but let’s be honest, none of them really are ever going to be more than role players in this league. Burks could be a role player coming off the bench for the Bucks for a year before trying to join Brandon Jennings in the starting backcourt in what would be a solid nucleus for a rebuilding squad.