When Juwan Howard first arrived at Michigan, he asked Eli Brooks whether he’d prefer playing at the 1 or the 2.
“I always said whatever gets me on the court,” Brooks said Tuesday, so at the time, it was an easy call. Point guard was Zavier Simpson’s domain. Brooks’ minutes last season, thus, came primarily at the 2. Easy.
Now, there’s a bit more of a question.
Brooks, the only four-year guard on Michigan’s roster, demurred when asked where he’s getting most of his reps at practice, only saying he’s played at both positions. With Mike Smith being a true point guard with more recent experience, it’s fair to assume Brooks will play his share of minutes at the 2 again this year, but that belies the point.
Simpson averaged nearly 34 minutes per game in 2019-20, and over 35 in conference play. He was running the show in every big moment. Smith might start. It’s unlikely he’ll have the same vise grip on the position.
When Brooks made strides last year, they came mostly on defense. He transformed himself from someone who got rotation minutes into a reliable starter who could guard the perimeter and hold his own shooting the ball on offense. He didn’t need to run ball-screens too often — that was Simpson’s job. Now, he’s making a conscious effort to improve there, knowing it’ll come into play.