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By The Numbers: Lighting Up Aaron Brooks

Today's Number: 334

Aaron Brooks ranked 334th in spot-up defense last season according to Synergy Sports. Opponents shot 47% against him in spot-up situations. They also shot 40% from three-point range. That's not good.

What's interesting here is that poor spot-up defense (if you can truly categorize it) is usually a result of poor hustle or a simple lack of awareness, i.e. the act of allowing one's man to sneak behind him for an open jumper. Brooks hustles. He's generally aware of both himself and the man he is guarding. So what gives? Did players simply get lucky when Brooks got a hand in their face?

I think there are two reasonable explanations for this.

For one, Brooks spent a good amount of time in the paint last year trying to help our undersized bigs. Every one of our perimeter defenders was forced to do the same, and it allowed for more open shots from range. If Brooks took one step too deep into the paint to try to pry the ball from a post player, his man would have plenty of time and space to get off a shot upon receiving a pass. This isn't necessarily Brooks' fault, rather the fault of the Rockets' inferior post defense.

Secondly, I think Brooks' height limits his ability to effectively close out. Many of the players he is asked to guard are taller than him. And we can't forget the times that Brooks is forced to close out on a player in a rotation, which likely leaves Brooks to close out on a 6'6 shooting guard/small forward. That's not a good match up, because the taller player can likely get an effective, smooth shot off despite Brooks' best attempts to get a hand in his face.

So, in this case, perhaps Brooks' height doesn't only limit him against bigger guards in the post or on the drive (Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams), but also on the perimeter. Yao's return should help things, but only slightly.