The Oregon Ducks had their best season in decades, led by a highly successful individual campaign for Junior Dillon Brooks, who shined with his late game heroics en route to earning Pac 12 Player of the year honors. The Mississauga, Ontario native, who played high school basketball at Findlay Prep, was a matchup problem on the offensive end of the floor all season long, punishing teams with his strength, skill, IQ and versatility. He finished second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 25.1 points per 40 minutes, trailing only likely #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. Brooks is a fiery competitor who at times allowed his emotions to get the best of him, but if he can learn to control his ultra-competitive nature, it will be a significant asset for him at the NBA level.
Measured at 6'6 in shoes and 220 pounds, Brooks has a very strong and physically mature frame that predicates a lot of what he does on the offensive end of the floor. While he has the strength to play both forward spots, he has just an average wingspan (6'6) which effects the impact he can have as a defender and finisher at the rim. He is a good, but not great athlete, generally relying on physical straight line drives getting downhill. He can be a powerful above the rim finisher with momentum going to his right, but for the most part lacks elite finishing ability in a crowd, partially due to his lack of length.
Despite Brooks' just average physical tools, he proved to be a highly skilled, aggressive and versatile scorer at the college level regardless, showing the ability to score prolifically both inside and out. Where he thrived most was attacking the basket out of isolation situations, using his first step and strength to get to the rim on straight line drives. He ranked in the 91st percentile in isolation offense via Synergy, bullying his way to the rim vs smaller wings or using his mobility against slower bigs on the perimeter. There are question marks about how that aspect of his game will translate to the NBA level versus elite athletes on the wing, as he lacks a degree of burst and is just an average ball handler who struggles to create with change of direction or speed. While at Oregon, he drifted towards being a ball-dominant isolation player who held the ball for long periods of time before making an aggressive move towards the basket. At the NBA level he will likely not be given as much freedom and will need to adapt to playing a more compact and efficient role.
A big part of Brooks' offense came around the rim, but he was also a reliable option creating scoring opportunities out of the mid-post. His size, strength, and touch allow him to create clean mid-range looks with his back to the basket. He won't necessarily get the mismatches in the NBA that he had in the post at the college level, but he has the skill set to score over smaller defenders from mid post areas.
For Brooks' game to translate well at the NBA level it will be essential that he continues to build on his already improved perimeter shooting. He fits best playing as a combo forward, and he'll have to be able to space the floor consistently if he wants to find time at that position. He shot a career best 40% from deep this past season on 4.1 attempts per game, up significantly from the 34% he shot as a sophomore, after barely shooting 3s at all as a freshman. He is not yet a knockdown threat, but has shown some dynamic shooting potential, looking comfortable on the catch, on the move, and off the dribble. His shooting hand rests somewhat on the top of the ball, but he has shown a compact release, with a clean follow through that should be able to translate to the NBA 3-point line.
Brooks' improved perimeter shooting skills opens various other offensive options for him. He can impact the game when he is attacking the rim hard off closeouts, stepping in for dribble jumpers, or showing his improved vision out of drive and kick situations. His shot selection was questionable at times at the college level, and he'll need to be more efficient at the NBA level serving more as a catch and shoot threat rather than a primary shot creator.
Brooks almost always found ways to impact the game offensively for Oregon, but the same could not always be said for his defensive consistency. The Ducks played a fair amount of press and zone defense that somewhat covered up Brooks' deficiencies on the defensive end, but there are definitely questions about his ability to defend NBA wings and power forwards. He is a competitive on ball defender when engaged who can use his strength to body up and contain on the perimeter, but he lacks elite length or lateral quickness, which limit his defensive potential. He is often a bit hunched playing off the ball, and can be a step late on defensive rotations. At his size and position it is tough to say who he can consistently defend at the NBA level as he doesn't have the athleticism to contain NBA wings or the size to deal with power forwards. He will have to rely on his strength, toughness, and an improved motor and focus to impact the game as a defender.
Brooks also struggled as a defensive rebounder, posting just 5.1 rebounds per 40 minutes during his Junior year. That number is on the low side for a guy who spent a fair amount of time playing the power forward position. He is not a quick jumper nor does he have the size or length to rely on his physical tools to rebound, so he will have to show an improved motor on the glass if he wants to impact the game as rebounder at the next level.
Dillon Brooks had an excellent junior year and was a huge part of an Oregon team that was just seconds away from reaching the National Championship game. Brooks starred as a versatile offensive threat for the Ducks, and made some improvements to his game that certainly increased his draft stock. If he can continue to hit outside shots, improve his defensive motor, and impact the game with his fiery competitive nature, he has the chance to carve out a role in the NBA.