Michael Scotto, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — MarShon Brooks and Mirza Teletovic piled up splinters instead of points at the end of the bench under former coach Avery Johnson.
Brooks described the harsh reality of being at the end of the bench and in coach Johnson’s doghouse.
“When you play six minutes and you miss a couple of shots, all you think about are those shots,” Brooks said. “You don’t have much of an opportunity to make up for what shots you missed, or the turnover you made, so you go to sleep thinking about that.”
The lack of playing time for Brooks and Teletovic was an unexpected twist. But now, both have been producing.
Brooks finished second in scoring average (24.6) as a senior at Providence and started 47 of the 56 games her appeared in during the last year’s lockout shortened season. Last season, as a rookie, he averaged an impressive 12.6 points per game and was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team.
Teletovic, on the other hand, was widely considered to be one of the best European prospects on the market, and the Nets front office was happy to add him.
Before the season began, I provided a scouting report on Teletovic and what he brought to the table.
Under Johnson, both Brooks and Teletovic struggled to get consistent playing time. However, despite that, Deron Williams had faith that the talent and work ethic of both players would get them back on the court eventually.
“We’ve been talking to those guys a lot and just telling them to be patient,” Williams said after Brooks and Teletovic combined to score 29 points off the bench in the Nets Jan. 5 win over the Sacramento Kings. “They come in and work hard even when they’re not getting minutes. They stay late, they get up extra shots, they’re in the weight room, they’re doing the right things. Now when they get their number called, they come out and play like this, and it helps their case.”
Since Carlesimo replaced Johnson, each player has been rejuvenated and has made a case for more playing time in Carlesimo’s rotation.
Over the Nets last five games, Brooks has averaged 7.8 points and has converted on 56.3 percent of his shot attempts.
“What I tried to do was just get back to the basics, score then look to pass if the pass is there,” said Brooks.
Teletovic has also found his stroke. Over the last three games, he has averaged 9.3 points and shot efficiently from the field, as well. During the recent stretch, Teletovic is shooting 52.6 percent from the field, including 54.5 percent from beyond the arc. In addition, although he has been criticized for a lack of defensive skill, Teletovic showed signs of life on defense and blocked three shots in as many games.
“People just think that I’m a three-point shooter,” Teletovic said. “I can do so many more things and I can help the team out in different ways.”
While Williams and their fellow teammates preached patience, Brooks and Teletovic turned the lack of playing time into motivation and studied the game.
“I’m very impatient,” Brooks said. “It was tough, but I came to work. Me and Doug [Overton], we got shots up everyday. I mean it’s just basketball at the end of the day. I just work on my craft.”
Teletovic also worked on his craft and improved his defensive skills by studying Reggie Evans.
“I really learn a lot from Reggie [Evans],” Teletovic said. “He’s a great defensive player and I’ve just been watching so many games of them playing and the way Reggie is defending. I just try to copy him some how if I can.”
While it remains to be seen how long both players can sustain their renewed success, both players have confidence in one another.
“MarShon is a very confident player. He is also very offensive-oriented,” Teletovic said. “Once he gets playing, he is very, very tough to guard.”
When asked about Teletovic’s improved play, Brooks wasn’t surprised.
“[Teletovic] can play, I promise you,” Brooks said. “There’s been days where he’s the best player in practice.”
Now, moving forward, the Nets hope Brooks and Teletovic can become a consistent bench duo.
Michael Scotto is an Analyst for SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter for the latest news from Brooklyn and the NBA: @MikeAScotto