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Rockets NBA Draft prospect preview: Dillon Brooks

How Oregon wing Dillon Brooks projects as an NBA player and why the Rockets should draft him

NCAA Basketball Tournament - West Regional - Duke v Oregon Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Oregon wing Dillon Brooks is an elite perimeter threat offensively, but projects as a below-average NBA defender after his outstanding junior year as a Duck. What more could the Rockets ask for?

As a 40.4 percent three-point shooter, Brooks adds to Houston’s identity: long-range bombers who struggle on the defensive end.

The 21-year-old can score with the best of them. The Ontario native averaged 16 points on 53 percent field goal shooting last year. His PER was 27.21 and he scored 25.1 points per 40 minutes, second only behind Markelle Fultz.

He can spot up, take defenders to the rack with straight-line drives, play with his back to the basket, and attack closeouts. His playmaking (2.7 assists per game) improved from his underclassman years, but he can still grow as a passer.

At Oregon, Brooks did most of his damage creating his own shot in isolation situations, taking advantage of smaller defenders with his 6-foot-6 muscular frame. According to DraftExpress, he ranked in the 91st percentile on isolation offense, per Synergy.

Plus, he doesn’t shy away from the bright lights of the moment. He handed UCLA its first loss of the season with a clutch game-winning triple. He nailed a buzzer-beater against Cal. He put the nail in the coffin against Tennessee in overtime.

Brooks’ two strongest qualities, shooting and the clutch gene, historically translate to the next level. How can something as arbitrary as clutch shooting transcend levels? Just ask Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker, or Steph Curry.

Although he has an NBA-ready body, Brooks probably won’t get the opportunity to punish mismatches as much. He won’t get as much freedom — especially if he’s playing alongside James Harden, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams — to hold the ball and take his man 1-on-1. Instead, in the Rockets system, Brooks would thrive as an outside gunner and by piercing the seams of a rotating defense. As the second option off a James Harden pick and roll, Brooks would be a serious weapon.

Lou Williams can walk after next season. The Rockets have that in mind, and know they will need to reproduce his offensive production eventually. Selecting Brooks and grooming him to be a spark plug off the bench is a smart plan for the near future.

While he's a polished scorer, Brooks can’t do much else; that’s why he won’t be a first-rounder. He struggles on the glass, which hinders any hope of him playing small-ball power forward. He’s not quick enough to stay with most two guards, so he lacks any defensive versatility. Oregon hid his liabilities by pressing and playing zone defense.

Houston may go the “draft and stash” route with at least one of their two second-round picks, but Dillon Brooks is as good a sleeper prospect as any.