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Good Cop / Bad Cop: The Jon Brockman Edition

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This good cop/bad cop series is meant to drop all pretenses and provide a transparent discussion about the reasons for hope and pessimism about each player on the roster. By giving insight into the competing arguments on various players on the roster, we can hopefully arrive at more reasonable overall assessments and expectations. Enjoy!

Good Stat: 56.7 TS%, the second highest on the team behind Corey Maggette (57.3 TS%). Brockman didn't use many possessions, but when he did he was more effective than nearly every other player on the roster.

Bad Stat: Team-leading 16.67% Turnover Rate, meaning roughly one out of every six possessions used by Jon Brockman ended in a turnover. Despite the fact that Brockman doesn't use many possessions in the first place, this is still an alarmingly high turnover rate and ranks as the 11th worst among all NBA forwards that played in at least 40 games and logged at least 10 minutes per game.

*In case you missed it, here is the link to my primer on advanced statistics.

Good Cop: First off, nobody should be allowed to have a strong negative opinion about Jon Brockman. Why? Brockman is an end of the bench NBA player who understands and embraces his role, and perhaps most importantly he is paid at a level commensurate to his skill level and his NBA duties. After being selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 38th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and playing out his rookie season with the Kings, a sign and trade deal brought Brockman to the Bucks prior the 2010-11 season. In the deal Brockman locked himself into a three-year, $3 million contract with the Bucks.

When a 22-year old player with NBA experience happily opts into a three-year deal for only $1 million per season, you can be sure he is someone who appreciates where he fits in and someone who knows he is a fringe NBA player. For anyone to get too upset or too critical of an end-of-the-rotation player with a completely insignificant salary cap figure like Brockman just seems wrong. What standard of performance should we use to evaluate this man? He did a pretty good job on his own explaining a proper role in an interview shortly after hearing he was headed to the Bucks:

"I'll fill whatever role they need, energy, rebounding, defense, whatever it is. Shoot, if I'm just a practice player, I'll do it. Whatever the team needs to win."

At times last season Jon Brockman was asked to do more than what he listed in the above quote, but any time the 6'7" Forward is playing big minutes at Center (or big minutes in general) there are serious extenuating circumstances that make it unfair to hold him fully accountable for playing so far out of position. When it came to bringing energy, effort, positional defense, and rebounding off the bench for short spurts, Brockman largely succeeded in his role, so what is there to really be upset about?

Bad Cop: I'm not here to bash Jon Brockman, but maybe I can illustrate my issue with him through a parody...[imagine the Brazilian guitar soundtrack in the background here] Doctors could prescribe forced viewing of his raw performance stats (2.2 pts/gm, 2.9 rebs/gm) as a sleeping aid for most NBA fans....When he gets an in-game dunk that isn't an uncontested attempt on a fast break, he genuinely surprises everyone except his closest family members....When he plays minutes at Center, he has to slap the ball to himself off the backboard to have any chance at a rebound...When he touches the ball outside of the paint on offense, you have the right to feel like something has probably gone terribly wrong with the set play...He had as many NBA double-doubles as I did last season.......He is [dramatic pause] The Least Interesting Man On The Court. *Note: I don't always do parodies of beer commercials, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay funny, my friends.

For a man with a cool nickname (The Brockness Monster), a likable personality, and an entertaining Twitter account, Jon Brockman sure isn't very compelling to watch on the court. Quite honestly, the two most exciting things he will likely do while on the court are: (1) attempt to take a charge, and (2) grab an offensive rebound and immediately toss the ball back to the perimeter. On offense it always seems like he just stands around and waits to go after the offensive rebound. I understand the "he's an end of the bench guy who gets paid peanuts so let's not be too critical of him" angle, but to merely say he is worth his relatively small paycheck is kind of damning him with faint praise, isn't it? Sometimes I wish the Bucks had used that same money on some less consistent but more talented undrafted free agent with legitimate upside, because a consistent garbage man to be used only in low-leverage situations on the end of the bench just isn't that interesting. When he goes in the game, it is probably because someone is giving poor effort, a big man is in foul trouble, or the Bucks are getting beaten by a large margin, so what is there to really be excited about when it comes to Jon Brockman?

Good Cop: Winning teams need guys like Brockman who can bring energy and effort every night and keep the rest of the players on the roster honest. As a garbage man, he posted the second highest TS% on the Bucks (56.7%), behind Corey Maggette's team-leading 57.3%, while also using the lowest percentage of team possessions while on the court. This means that despite never having a play called for him on offense, Brockman still almost never took ill-advised shots or attempts outside the flow of the offense, and instead stuck to high percentage put-backs and shots in the paint borne out of broken plays. Over the course of the entire season, he only attempted 13 shots from beyond 9 feet (3-6 on shots 10 to 15 ft away from the hoop and 2-7 on shots 16 to 23 ft away). A job well done on offense for Brockman, especially considering the Bucks were better by a pretty large margin (net plus of 5 pts / 100 possessions) with Brockman on the floor.

As for rebounding, which is his marketable NBA skill, he posted percentages slightly down from his time with the Kings, but still very respectable for his pay grade. Making up for size mismatches with consistent energy and solid positioning, Brockman grabbed a higher percentage of offensive rebounds while on the floor (12.3% of available Off Reb) than anyone on the Bucks aside from what Earl Barron did in his brief cup of coffee with the team. He also grabbed a higher percentage of total available rebounds while on the floor (15.7%) than everyone on the team except for Andrew Bogut (18.2%) and Drew Gooden (16.1%). By the way, among all NBA forwards that played in at least 40 games and logged at least 10 minutes per game, Brockman's Offensive Rebound Rate is good for 11th best and his Total Rebound Rate is good for 21st best.

Remember, he's being paid a paltry $1 million to produce these type of numbers coming off the end of the bench. He takes his niche seriously, he understands where his value lies, and he certainly performs at least well enough to justify having that end-of-the-bench energy player role for the next two seasons.

Bad Cop: Brockman's TS% is well and good, but let's not forget that he had a team-leading 16.67% Turnover Rate, meaning roughly one out of every six possessions used by Jon Brockman ended in a turnover. This is still an alarmingly high turnover rate and ranks at the 11th worst among all NBA forwards that played in at least 40 games and logged at least 10 minutes per game. End of the bench guys just aren't supposed to make mistakes at such a high rate. Anyways, I like the focus on his rebounding numbers, and after seeing those impressive rankings I want to go a bit deeper to see if he's really helping the team in that area. His individual rebounding rates are nice, but as a player who can just hang around the hoop on offense and wait for misses I expect him to post pretty good numbers because that is really his only assignment on the court. In fact, looking at the team rebounding numbers relative to whether Brockman is on the court or not takes a bit of the luster and shine off those individual rates.

Stat
ON Court
OFF Court
Net

Offensive Rebounding
32.0%
26.7%
+5.2%
Defensive Rebounding
70.4%
72.7%
-2.3%
Total Rebounding
51.2%
49.7%
+1.4%

The offensive rebounding bump that Brockman provides is pretty special, but we have to remember that he gets to stand around and basically wait for the ball to come off the rim. So even though he improves the offensive rebounding numbers while on the court, the Bucks are still sacrificing offensive spacing and essentially precluding Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's presence on the court as well, because there is almost no way the offense could function in the half court with both on the floor at the same time. Furthermore, the size issue becomes more apparent looking at the negative swing in defensive rebounding. Even though some of the drop might be due to the fact that Brockman rarely gets paired in lineups with super-rebounder Andrew Bogut, the fundamental issue is that Brockman lacks the size to compete for 50/50 rebounds with much taller opponents and relies on his ability to get great positioning. Unlike his role on offense where he can establish his rebounding position during sets (because he isn't a viable option on most plays), the necessary rotations and assignments in the defensive scheme likely rob him of the opportunity to gain a similar advantage in positioning on the defensive boards.

However, on the whole I can actually agree that Brockman brings the necessary energy, relentless effort, and rebounding focus nearly every night. He is almost undoubtedly worth what he is being paid. It is just important to remember that his size and lack of offensive skill will always hold him back and prevent him from succeeding against NBA starters, so his value is likely maximized as an end-of-the-bench energy guy and not much more. Fair enough?