Last year, Brooks trusted veteran guard Derek Fisher to come in midway through the season and immediately steal minutes from Daequan Cook, even at Cook's natural position of shooting guard.
This season, Brooks has maintained the status quo with Eric Maynor as the primary backup point guard over Jackson despite Maynor showing significant rust following last season's knee injury. Other promising young players like Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III, DeAndre Liggins and Daniel Orton are currently stuck at the bench or sent to Tulsa to play minor league minutes.
“I like consistency,” Brooks explained. “I liked it as a player and I like it as a coach. I want to know exactly what I'm getting from the players. That effort has to be consistent. We can't worry about our effort fluctuating from game to game. And so the consistency on that has always been a trademark with our organization. You're going to always see good effort.
“I think it's valuable for the players to know what they're getting every day; what they're getting from me, what they're getting from their coaches, what they're getting from their teammates. That consistency creates good habits. And it's always something to fall back on. When you're going through a rough patch, you always know that you can fall back on your consistent good habits.”
Brooks has been as flexible as ever this season. He tried Lamb in the first half at Detroit. He's altered Durant's substitution pattern to have him anchor the second string at the start of each second quarter. And he showed his growing trust in Jackson on Wednesday.
“Until your name is called, you can't do nothing about it other than be ready,” Brooks said. “And then when you're name is called you're going to have the success you deserve.”
Brooks refuses to admit he's taken a more flexible approach. He fears it will take the focus away from the players, who Brooks says always deserve the credit.
“I look at it as our team developing together as a group and we can do more things as a team,” Brooks said. “It's easy to look at a basketball team and say ‘Why don't you do this, why don't you do that, why don't you do that?' Well if they can't get to level two, how can you put them through it? They have to be ready to finish level one.”
Jackson's unlikely performance proved proper development is indeed taking place — even if ample playing time rarely has been abundant.
“When you have 14 guys, you can't play 14 guys in an NBA game. It's hard to play nine guys substantial minutes,” Brooks said. “So you have to develop them every day. You have to have a game plan from the start of their day to the end of the day. And you have to be consistent with it.
“That's one of the things our staff does is they're consistent with the guys. They never change. They never change from day-to-day. They never change based on how we're playing, whether we're playing well or not playing well. It's very consistent strategically.”
Brooks then summed up his philosophy much more succinctly.
“Players earn minutes,” he said, “not age.”