Aaron Brooks sparking second unit, excited for fresh start

BOSTON — The Phoenix Suns acquired Aaron Brooks to provide energy and a scoring punch off the bench, and for the first time as a Sun he did all that and more Wednesday night in Boston.

With the amped up Celtics starting unit making the Suns’ starters look as bad as they have all year, Brooks and the bench unit entered at the end of the third quarter and completely changed the game, finally forging a Suns pace while cutting a 29-point lead all the way down to eight before ultimately succumbing.

It would be unreasonable to expect Brooks to lead many 18-0 runs as he did in this one, but the spurt could be a blueprint for what Brooks can do for this team as he the Suns got out in the open court for transition buckets and knocked down threes in the half court with Brooks in the middle of everything. In 15 minutes of second-half action, he exploded for 14 points, six assists and two steals to combine with Jared Dudley’s 14 points to make this a game again.

“I just wanted to bring a little bit of energy off the bench,” Brooks said. “I think as a team the bench players came in, played very well today.”

In the end this deal will be judged by its long-term implications, of which there are many, but purely for this season Brooks appears to be a perfect fit as a lethal scoring threat who can energize the entire unit and prevent some of the lethargic stretches we’ve seen this season.

He’s covered defensively with Dudley, Pietrus and Gortat out there with him, and he’s got a pair of three-point shooters to dish it to if teams key in on his drives.

Most importantly, as we last night, he can create that frenetic pace the bench so thrived in last season that has seldom occurred this year, and when the threes are falling this bench can make the kind of game-turning runs it was known for last year.

“We like to run and shoot, up tempo,” Brooks said. “That fits my game, that’s how I play, so it works out perfect.”

Having played just three games, Brooks is still just getting acclimated to the Suns. He said the first couple games it was “weird” playing with new teammates because he’s not used to seeing them out on the floor with him.

We saw that a few times against the Celtics as he penetrated and got the ball to teammates in spots they’re unaccustomed to getting it in, but that will come with time. Perhaps it had to do with the “nothing to lose” game situation, but Brooks finally looked comfortable being the gunner he was acquired to be against the Celtics after some feeling it out passiveness in his first two contests.

I’ve questioned Brooks’ fitness as the Suns’ point guard of the future since he’s far from a distributor in the Nash mode, but that’s the last thing the Suns want him to constrain himself to be this season.

“He’s an open court player and a scorer and that’s who we want him to be,” Gentry said. “We don’t want him to be Steve Nash, we want him to be Aaron Brooks. And Aaron Brooks was a guy that was very aggressive offensively when he played in Houston, and made as many threes as anybody in the league last year. And we just want him to be what he is.”

Brooks is the Suns’ change of pace point guard, a guy who will look for his offense more than Nash does but a player who can carry the Suns for stretches when he gets hot.

It will be interesting to see how this dynamic works itself out. In some ways it’s like the Philadelphia Eagles going from a dynamic playmaker like Michael Vick to more of a pocket passer in Kevin Kolb in the middle of a game. The contrast in styles from a maestro like Nash to a gunner like Brooks can make the team very difficult to defend.

Although Brooks is in no way Nashian in the way Goran Dragic tried to emulate Two Time, Brooks called MVSteve a “genius with the ball” and somebody who surely will team him a thing or two about being a playmaker in this league.

In my first interview with Brooks he seemed genuinely excited to be in Phoenix playing with teammates he called “cool,” a head coach with “a great coaching style” in that it allows him so much freedom and a renowned training staff that’s helping the ankle that’s hampered him all season slowly get smaller.

But most of all Brooks is excited about having a fresh start as he tries to rebuild his value heading into a summer where he will look to get paid.

“A fresh start, that’s it,” Brooks said. “It’s just good to be open, going out there playing, not having to worry about all this stuff.

“Just a fresh start.”

Tags: Aaron Brooks

  • Jason

    He better not want too much money or the “cool” teammates, the coach with “a great coaching style,” and the renowned training staff will disappear as quickly as KG’s temperament. He should get somewhere between Warrick and Childress money.

  • Mike

    Don’t be fooled. He’s looking for a BIG PAY DAY. Look for Brooks to continue to be selfish on the 2nd unit.

  • Eric

    I agree if we can get Brooks to sign for 5-6 MM a year the Suns should be good in the long run without ruinning a chance to pick up a good free agent to replace Carter. If we can pick up a good forward you can move Frye to the 3 with Lopez/Gortat and maybe a Kevin Love type player at the 4 we’d be big enough to compete with anyone so long as the bench plays the way it did last night!

  • sun also rises

    He can be as selfish as he wants to be if he keeps putting forth the effort he did last night. I’m sick of seeing the second unit wandering around the floor on the offensive end waiting for somebody to put on the hero hat, while the opponent gobbles up a twenty point lead.

    Last night was the first time I’ve seen the Suns ERASE a twenty point deficit this season. Brooks was the reason for that and the reason why we brought him in. Playing unselfishly doesn’t mean crap if it’s just a nice way of saying “don’t pass me the ball, Nash will eventually come back in and fix this mess.” Enough of that crap.

  • VoTs Critic

    Thanks for getting some insight from AB. The future with him on the team is certainly unknown but, for now he definitely makes the bench more of a threat with his energy and offensive capabilities. Plus the bench is going to be the guys he is playing with if he is here after nash, so its good to see them stringing together some good games. Obviously the camera was a bit shaky making it hard to watch at times but, keep it up Mike I’d like to here some more from that bench crew and go Suns!

  • Freddy

    I really like brooks and hope he works out for us long term, short term or whatever the plan is for him. When I heard about the trade I thought we got the better end of the deal… I hope his play makes believers out of the nonbelievers.

    I really think he can be that guy that helps us keep a lead, or gain a few points while the starters get a breather or finish a game if needed.

    I look forward to seeing more of his game. Brutha running the Point :)

  • Cam

    I think if the trade had been straight up I would be fine with it. Nice to finally see some energy off the bench this year. AB engineered a great comeback that fell a bit short last night. Too bad we gave up a first round pick in the process. I hate seeing the Suns give those up. Go Suns.

  • Wutt

    If by selfish you guys mean 7 assists then sure, why the hell not

  • Mike Meez

    Brooks seemed absolutely THRILLED during the interview haha. Kidding, I don’t know what to make of the guy. It’s hard to be in his position to get relegated to a backup after being most improved player last year. Hopefully he will use this season and whatever time after that to learn from Nash.

  • Mel.

    Hey, at the worst, the Suns can dangle the opportunity to hop into the driver’s seat in front of him, should a Nash swap happen in the off-season. There’s worse scenarios than being the go-to guy who’s being asked to try and fit into the sneakers of a legend; not that he’s got that kind of upside, but the Dragic ‘give’ means absolutely squat if the office doesn’t back it up by giving Brooks the opportunity he says he wants.