2:47 pm Jan. 7, 2013
Earlier this season, it appeared that MarShon Brooks and Mirza Teletovic would not play significant roles for the Brooklyn Nets.
Under coach Avery Johnson, defense was the currency that allowed players to earn more rotation time. And neither Brooks, who'd been the Nets' starting shooting guard last season in New Jersey, nor Teletovic, signed this summer to a three-year deal after a solid career overseas, play much of it.
Accordingly, Brooks dropped on Johnson's depth chart, earning more than eight minutes played in just five December games. And Teletovic, who'd been expected to play major minutes prior to the season (the Nets did, after all, use their entire mid-level exemption on him) played even less, failing to reach double figures in minutes once after December 4, and twice all season.
But Johnson is gone now, and it has fallen to P.J. Carlesimo, elevated to head coach, to piece together a winning formula. Saturday night, he did so for the fifth time in six games, with a 113-93 win over the Sacremento Kings at the Barclays Center. And both Brooks and Teletovic were significant parts of the equation.
Brooks played in a season high 26 minutes, shot a season high 14 times, and had 15 points and three assists to show for it. Teletovic was even more effective, recording a season-best 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in just under 21 minutes, by far the most he's played all season.
For Brooks, the game served as both a confidence booster and resume builder, with the shooting guard spending time playing point guard, and playing it well. That kind of offensive dimension will allow Carlesimo to use him in more spots, making up for his ineffective defense as he seeks a role on this Nets team.
“We do believe in him,” Carlesimo said following the game. “We’ve been saying all along MarShon can be a really key piece to our team. He played well.”
For Teletovic, the scoring was nice, but his six rebounds, five offensive, help to blunt what is the primary advantage of his rival for power forward minutes, Reggie Evans. While Evans can rebound as well as anyone in the league, he simply cannot score, and isn't much of a defender. If Teletovic can score, then, and rebound enough, he should earn more minutes.
“People around basketball don’t really know me,” Teletovic said following the game. “People think I’m a three-point shooter, but I can do so much more. I can help the team out in different ways.”
It is up to Brooks and Teletovic to show that these added dimensions weren't simply a function of facing the lowly Kings. But they appear to have a coach in Carlesimo who is willing to give them the chance to prove it.