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September 2, 2014

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Red tux and 34 points from Houston’s Brooks provides Summer League flashback

Aaron Brooks Game 4 Postgame Session

Well before Aaron Brooks made himself a YouTube and blogosphere sensation with his red tuxedo get-up on Sunday, the Rockets guard showed flashes of what was to come last summer in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League.

For anyone who showed up to the Thomas & Mack Center last July to see the Oregon product drop 16.8 points and 7 assists per game for the Rockets' summer squad, it really should come as no surprise.

The summer league rosters are typically reserved for guys who were either just drafted, guys drafted within the past few years and still need some work or guys who are just searching for a glimmer of hope in earning a training camp invite.

Brooks fit that second category.

A late-first round pick in 2007, he averaged 5.2 points and 1.7 assists in a limited role as a rookie. This year, though, Houston's brass saw enough to trade veteran point guard Rafer Alston to Orlando mid-season, handing the keys to Brooks and fellow youngster Kyle Lowry.

How'd he respond? Brooks averaged 11.2 points and 3 assists in the regular season, but has completely taken off in the postseason.

In a six game series with Portland, he averaged 15.3 points. So far, in four games against the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, that number's bumped up to 17.4.

On Sunday, in the Rockets' first game in the playoffs without 7-foot-6 behemoth Yao Ming, he scored a career-high 34 points, then flashed that red tux on the podium afterwards.

A star born? Maybe. His 37 assists to 20 turnovers this postseason prove that he's not rattled.

He's also solidified something else -- No way he'll be back in Vegas for the summer league this year. He doesn't fit any of those three categories.

So I figured that while I was at it with this little Brooks update, why not take a look at some of the other guards who impress last year during the 10-day summer league? Because, if you remember correctly, there were plenty of them.

Jerryd Bayless - Portland Trailblazers

Summer league numbers: 4 games, 29.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 48.5 FG%

NBA regular season numbers: 53 games, 12 mpg, 4.3 ppg, 36.5 FG%

Bayless was the unquestioned MVP of the 2008 summer league, capping his week with a 36-point barrage in a 74-73 win against Phoenix, making 13 of his final 18 shot attempts. He'll more than likely get a chance to defend his crown this year, too, since he pretty much fits that second aforementioned category.

On a roster absolutely loaded with young talent -- especially in the backcourt -- Bayless was buried. He simply needs to wait his turn. It'll come. He's too good for it not to. That summer league showing was no fluke.

Ramon Sessions - Milwaukee Bucks

Summer league numbers: 3 games, 15.3 ppg, 7.3 apg, 5.3 apg

NBA regular season numbers: 79 games, 12.4 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.4 rpg

Add this guy to the 'no way he'll be here again this year' category. That's quite a leap, considering he made an ill-advised decision to leave UNR early, and nearly went undrafted.

Sessions took over the starting point guard duties in Milwaukee for the season's final 35 games, and if the Bucks have it their way, that may remain the case for several years.

In seven games in the month of April, he finished the season unbelievably strong, averaging 14 points, 10.4 assists and 5 rebounds per game, including four double-doubles and a triple-double.

C.J. Watson - Golden State Warriors

Summer league numbers: 4 games, 18.8 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.5 rpg

NBA regular season numbers: 77 games, 9.5 ppg, 2.7 apg, 45.7 FG%

How could I not include the Gorman kid?

C.J. earned his roster spot with the Warriors for the second consecutive year over the summer, and even though there's probably about to be a bunch of roster shake-up in the Bay area, Watson should stay. However, the summer league will probably be a destination for him once again.

Lets face it, the Warriors were bad this year. Injuries, bad trades, all that stuff. But Watson was solid as his minutes more than doubled from 2007 to 2008.

O.J. Mayo - Memphis Grizzlies

Summer league numbers: 5 games, 18.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg

NBA regular season numbers: 82 games 18.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, 43.8 FG%

If it wasn't for that Derrick Rose guy -- or for Memphis just being pretty much a terrible team -- Mayo would have been the NBA's Rookie of the Year this season.

There's an outside chance he'll be back in the summer league this year, but he certainly quelled several concerns regarding his game as a rookie. His field goal percentage and willingness to distribute both exceeded expectation.

D.J. Augustin - Charlotte Bobcats

Summer league numbers: 3 games, 19.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 apg

NBA regular season numbers: 72 games, 11.2 ppg, 3.5 apg, 1.9 rpg

Augustin was limited to just three games in Vegas last summer after taking a beating against Golden State mid-way through the week. He also held his own during his inaugural pro season. However, expect Augustin to be back this summer.

The bigger question is how Larry Brown makes the whole two-point-guard thing with Augustin and Raymond Felton work long-term. Glad it's not my problem.

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