Rocketscience: On Aaron Brooks

Playing hurt is no fun.   Aside from the actual physical pain, there are a number of psychological hurdles holding you back on the court.  Part of the problem stems from not trusting your injured body part.  There is always the fear of getting reinjured, possibly worse than the first time.  Take Brandon Roy, for instance, who heavily favored his “good” knee, only to wear it down even more than the other, now requiring surgery on both.  Another source of frustration comes from a dual feeling of letting yourself and your teammates down.  You were a part of the team’s plan coming in to the season, and now, during your injury and recovery, you are helpless as the team struggles.   It’s a lonely point in any basketball player’s career, and often a pivotal one.  Some players dig deep and find out who they really are (Grant Hill, Amare) – they realize how much the game means to them, and with a renewed outlook, find new motivation and translate the incredible work ethic required for their successful rehab onto the basketball court.  Other players, often those who relied heavily on natural abilities, lose momentum and never get back on track (Arenas, McGrady).

Take all of those emotions – the self-doubt, disappointment, solitude – and tack on millions of dollars worth of pressure to perform well.  That’s what Aaron Brooks is dealing with.  After this season, Brooks will become a restricted free agent, which means he has a very strong incentive to be out on the court and showcase his abilities.   The market for point guards the past few years has been generous, to say the least, with Mike Conley (5yrs, $40 mil) leading the way.  There is a decent chance that, if he can at least show that he is capable of being the player he was last year, he can find his way into a large deal (at least relatively large within the new CBA).   That would force the Rockets into a tough decision of either potentially overpaying Brooks or losing a valuable asset and receiving nothing in return.  Either way, Brooks gets paid, and gets to play for a team that just proved they really want him.

If I were Aaron, this is how I would be looking at this situation:  tough it out during this injury and do what it takes to show that you can still play.  Aside from his team needing him and his impending contract situation, there are more tangible reasons to believe that Brooks came back way too soon from his ankle injury.   A lot of basketball players are in a constant state of pain-management, with more of a sliding scale of toleration than a black and white road map.  For a tough player like Brooks, the possibility of him taking something to numb the pain before games is not out of the question.* Given his aforementioned situation, any relief that allows him to play is a blessing.  The only problem with numbing the pain for a game (or not numbing the pain and just sucking it up) is that it prolongs the injury, and makes it especially painful the following couple of days, which leads me to an observation I made about Brook’s per-48 minute productivity this season:

Brooks injury 2.1.11 Rocketscience: On Aaron Brooks

When Brooks gets more rest, he performs better.  He is more aggressive in finding his own shot, and makes a significantly higher percentage of his looks.  Unfortunately, he has a contract to worry about, so must be out on the court regardless of how his ankle feels.

When asked if he felt he still had something to prove, Brooks said, “I guess I do…I’m a work in progress. I’m not satisfied with myself. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”**  For now, I just hope Aaron works on getting healthy.

*I am most certainly not referring to anything banned or considered unethical, it might even be Advil.

**source: Houston Chronicle

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