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The Rockets should probably avoid Dillon Brooks


NBA: Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies
Should the Rockets target controversial free agent Dillon Brooks?
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

At times, we all say the wrong thing.

We’ve all been there. You’re at a party. Perhaps you’re under the influence. “Look at this guy. Who does he think he is with that hat?”.

“That’s my best friend”.

Recently, Dillon Brooks has been saying all of the wrong things. Some feel that Shams Charania said the wrong thing about him, too.

Under any circumstances. Yikes. That is absolutely harsh. It’s probably unfair to Brooks too.

On the other hand, Brooks’ response has been...let’s say “uninspiring”. Allegedly, he wasn't happy with his role in Memphis. He thinks he should have been a bigger part of the offense.

Far be it from me to question the young man’s confidence. I usually try to avoid doing so when it comes to NBA players. Why?

Simple. Confidence is good. I think I’m one of the best sportswriters in the business at this moment. If I was in my mid-20s, and in the NBA?

I’d be insufferable.

At the same time, Brooks’ confidence feels a bit unwarranted. Let’s see what the numbers say.

Does Brooks deserve a bigger offensive role?

In 2022-23, Brooks attempted 13.6 field goals per game. That was third on the Grizzlies, behind Ja Morant and Desmond Bane.

He had a True Shooting percentage (TS%) of 49.4. That is ghastly. I shouldn’t need to use Bball Index to illustrate how deeply abysmal that is.

I’ll do it anyway. Brooks ranked in the 4.3rd percentile in the entire NBA in TS%. No, my one key isn’t broken. The four-point-third percentile.

He was in the 10.1st percentile in Index’s Overall Shot Making metric. The most encouraging indicator of Brooks’ ability came in their Overall Shot Creation metric, where Brooks was in the 66.9th percentile.

I’m still not impressed. OK, so Brooks is mediocre at creating shots. He’s dreadful at making them. The Overall Shot Creation metric accounts for degree of difficulty in the attempts, and efficiency.

In other words, a player could huck full-court heaves with a full shot clock several times per game, and if their coach inexplicably continued to play them, they may fare well in this metric. Call me crazy, but I like players who take and make difficult shots.

Brooks just takes them.

With that said, this is also one of the best defenders in the NBA. Brooks deserves the credit he’s due. He’s absolutely suffocating at the point of attack, and he can realistically guard somewhere between one through four and two through five.

He’d be worth a flier at a certain cost. Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear likely to accept his own value.

What is Brooks worth?

Rumor has it, Brooks places his own worth at about $25 million a year.

So, again...the 4.3rd percentile in TS%. Brooks was probably the least efficient volume shooter in a regular NBA rotation this season. There is no universe wherein any NBA team should be giving him anything that approaches $25 million.

That’s the thing about confidence: it’s a double-edged sword. Too much of anything, etc, etc.

From the Rockets’ perspective, any contract approaching that level would be a mistake of ungodly proportions. What’s the logic here? “Hey, we were the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA last year. Let’s add the league’s worst shooter on a huge contract!”.

Of course, the Rockets were also one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. They could use Brooks - at a certain price point.

What if Brooks is readily available?

The “probably” in this article’s title is the operative word.

Suppose Brooks’ market dries up. Nobody’s willing to offer him a long-term deal north of the midlevel exception. Now, Brooks might make some sense.

He should not be the Rockets’ presumptive starter in any universe. It would be better to simply give the spot to Tari Eason. Personally, I’m partial to the idea of getting a true three-and-D wing in free agency and using Eason as a sixth man, as he was during his college days at LSU.

I digress. For the MLE, Brooks would be a fine addition to the Rockets’ rotation. I could also be swayed by a big, one-year prove-it deal. If Brooks continues chucking shots with no regard for the basic principles of society, you can bench him. He won’t be part of the long-term plan anyway.

I actually don’t have any concerns about the “cultural impact” of Brooks. To my mind, that’s the wording of crusty old pundits who think NBA players are supposed to be avatars for their own failed dreams.

A more valid concern is Brooks’ on-court impact. If this guy thinks he should be a primary offensive option, that’s going to be an issue in Houston. This team has a Jalen Green to develop.

No matter who the Rockets draft, Brooks seems to covet what ought to be Green’s role. Victor Wembanyama is the superstar who carries you to that clutch moment when you need a contested half-court bucket. Green takes that shot. Scoot Henderson runs the offense, and Green takes over when it breaks down.

I could go on. The point is, there will not be room for Dillon Brooks to be who, by all accounts, he wants to be on the Rockets.

If he’s willing to be something else, at a certain price, perhaps the Rockets could consider him.

Who knows? Maybe he just said the wrong thing.