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The Celtics called up shooting guard MarShon Brooks on Thursday following a weeklong stint with the Maine Red Claws in the NBA Development League. Brooks was assigned to Maine after appearing in just nine games through December, and now returns to a revamped backcourt rotation after the trade that sent Courtney Lee to Memphis in exchange for Jerryd Bayless on Tuesday.
Brooks was nothing short of spectacular in his five games with the Red Claws, averaging 27.4 points, 6 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 47.8% from the floor. He posted a high of 36 points on 14-of-28 shooting in a loss to Tulsa on Sunday, just one day after recording a double-double with 24 points and 11 boards against Springfield. The Red Claws went 2-3 in those games and are in third place in the East Division, three games behind first-place Canton.
Of course, the Celtics know first-hand that a successful run in the D-League does not equal success at the top level. Last year, rookies Fab Melo and Kris Joseph both spent time in Maine, with Melo in particular tearing it up with record-breaking numbers, and neither is in the NBA today. Brooks averaged just 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in his nine appearances with Boston this year.
Brooks’s chances of breaking into the Celtics’ rotation remain slim. In the two games since the trade, head coach Brad Stevens has stuck with his starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford, with Bayless averaging 23 minutes off the bench in losses at Denver and Los Angeles. If Stevens keeps playing Bradley and Crawford from the start, Brooks could possibly leapfrog Phil Pressey, who played just five minutes against the Clippers, as the fourth backcourt player on the depth chart – at least until Rajon Rondo returns.
But with Bayless and Pressey the only true point guards available, Stevens could decide to start Bayless and move one of the shooting guards, presumably Crawford, to the bench, which would limit Brooks’s minutes severely. That shakeup could take place if the Celtics, currently on a six-game losing streak but still just 1.5 games out of playoff position, continue to struggle. It will surely be interesting to see how Stevens juggles his backcourt in the weeks leading up to Rondo’s return to action.