The Houston Rockets will look completely different next season. Of course, it starts with their new floor general, Fred VanVleet. They also made another big splash by bringing in the at-times controversial but also defensive lockdown forward Dillon Brooks.
When the season ended last year for Brooks and the Memphis Grizzlies, Brooks’ stock was at an all-time low. Brooks had come off a season where he was fined over $248,000 for multiple infractions, including pushing a cameraman while chasing a ball out of bounds and 18 technicals, which was second in the league last season (I am sure you can guess who was first). Brooks, however, wasn't too concerned with the fines.
This doesn't even include his well-publicized run-in with LeBron James during last season's NBA playoffs.
With the bad also came the good.
The 2022-23 Kia NBA All-Defensive Second Team!— NBA (@NBA) May 9, 2023
▪️ Bam Adebayo (@MiamiHEAT)
▪️ OG Anunoby (@Raptors)
▪️ Dillon Brooks (@memgrizz)
▪️ Draymond Green (@warriors)
▪️ Derrick White (@celtics)@Kia | #NBAAwards pic.twitter.com/qqXvV9Kllv
Despite all the negative antics we saw from Brooks last season, he was still one of the best defensive players in the entire league. Even though his shooting has been below average for the previous two seasons, his defense has not. This one play vs. Steph Curry and the Warriors sums up what Brooks brings on the defensive end.
Brooks is the type of player that will not back down to any player. Whether it is Curry, LeBron James or his teammates, when this type of intensity is focused, it can elevate a team. Brooks has extreme highs and lows, and his performance in this year's FIBA World Cup has shown both sides of the Dillon Brooks coin.
The Good Dillon Brooks during the FIBA tournament
During Brooks time with Team Canada in five games, he is averaging 10.4 points and is shooting great from beyond the arc at 53.8 while helping Canada qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2000. Yes, it is on limited attempts at only 2.6 a game, but that is a huge improvement considering one of the biggest complaints about Brooks last season, which was he shot too much at times.
Brooks had the best game of his FIBA basketball career in the team's last win and clinched the win for Canada with this dagger three-pointer to close out Spain.
Brooks finished with a FIBA career-high 22 points on 8-for-12 from beyond the arch. Of course, he also played lockdown defense the entire game and, as always, guarded the other team's best perimeter player. When Brooks is making his shots (3-for-3 from deep) and locking down opposing players, he is at the peak of his powers. Brooks has been under control and playing within the team framework for most of the FIBA tournament.
But as I mentioned earlier, you have to take the good and the bad when it comes to Brooks.
The less-than-optimal Brooks during the FIBA tournament
Before I start, let me get this out of the way. Every player struggles with their shot at some point during a tournament or season, but Brooks will have the spotlight on him even more, considering he has shot .309 and .326 from beyond the arch in the last two seasons. Teams made it a point to leave Brooks open last season, and it would sometimes clog up the lane for his teammates.
During this year's tournament, Brooks has had games of only two points and six points where he went a combined 2-for-9 from the field and 1-for-6 from three-point range. At times, he was a liability on the offensive end and was part of the reason that Canada was upset in the second round by Brazil.
Brazil upset the Canada which featured a team of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, RJ Barrett and Dillon Brooks in the World Cup as a 20-point underdog pic.twitter.com/R2V28aszAK— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 1, 2023
Even in the negative, there have been positives. Brooks hasn't been a distraction for Team Canada, as he has toned down any extra antics you saw from him last season. Also, even in the upset, Brooks only shot one three-pointer, which means he wasn't forcing bad shots.
Overall, if you look at Brooks play during the tournament, you have to be pleased. As mentioned earlier, he is averaging double digits while shooting a blistering 53.8 from three-point range on 7-for-13 shooting. Yes, there are some risks in bringing in Brooks as at times, he can be volatile, and you are tied to him on a four-year guarantee deal, but if the Rockets get this version of Dillon Brooks, it will be money well spent.
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