The Rockets' overachieving season came sharply into focus Tuesday in a dreadful 99-66 loss at Miami that showed how slim the margins are for a team without stars, as Houston trailed 56-31 at halftime while Brooks finished 3-of-16 for 10 points with one assist and four turnovers. On the other hand, it remains surprising that the Rockets haven't suffered more blowouts. They approach the All-Star break within 1 1/2 games of the playoffs, in no small part because of Brooks' uniformly quick transition from long-term project to the team's leading scorer with 19.4 points per game through Tuesday.
"I don't know if there's another player in the league that matches the quickness and speed that he has," Adelman said. "If he has room, I don't see who in the league is going to keep him in front of him for 48 minutes. He's a guy who will get two points in a half, and then in six minutes he'll get 16 -- that's who he is."
One benefit of remaining in college for four years was the perspective that helps Brooks dismiss complaints that he is little more than a lightning scorer in a point guard's undersized body.
"My junior year I had one of my worst years because I was listening to the NBA scouts telling me that 'He's good, he can score, but he needs to be a traditional point guard,' " Brooks said. "After that I went back to just playing. I figured I was going to go out the way I was going to go out, and that's what happened: I just went out there and played basketball and showed what I was capable of, which was winning games."
He has been fortunate to play for Adelman, who has thrived with scoring point guards like
"Rick is fantastic about bringing along players, which is a skill that is unique among coaches in the league," Rockets general manager
Brooks rarely played as a rookie while the Rockets' ball-handling was dominated by McGrady and starting point guard
"Anyone who is drafted past No. 20, the odds are stacked against them and they have to almost surprise you in order to make it," Morey said. "Aaron's size and his playmaking ability and his defense scared away a lot of teams. But intelligence is critical to a point guard and, though we thought he was a very smart player, his level of intelligence is something that surprised us.
"There was some worry about him getting off his shot against longer players and he's answered that. He's been able to get his shot off pretty much when he wants, and that's been critical for us. His ability to finish against NBA shot-blockers has been better than we thought, to put English on the ball and take angles when he drives in. He's not
The Rockets used to be one of the league's longer teams, but over the last 12 months they've succeeded in pairing Brooks with his 6-foot backup,
"What I like about having them together on the court is they are opposites," Rockets player programs director
As much as the Rockets need scoring from Brooks (as well as from the equally surprising
Though they're happy with his progress, neither the Rockets nor Brooks believe he's close to being a finished player.
"This offseason is going to be key for him," Respert said. "I'd like to see him bulk up a little bit, because even if he loses half a step he's still good enough to beat 90 percent of the guards in this league. But he needs to be strong enough when he does turn the corner on guys like
"He does it pretty good right now, but it's that game-winning moment I'm talking about. It's that one play -- that's what is going to prevent him from becoming a potential All-Star like
Having come so far already, no one in Houston is going to predict that Brooks can't take his game further still.