Corey Brewer, almost every game, will look better to the naked eye than he does on the stat sheet. There are notable exceptions, including his most recent effort -- a 27-point outburst against the Cavs in which he was both efficient and red-hot from three-point range (5-for-5).
But typically, Brewer’s contributions are better appreciated with the eye test. He’s always been that way. The differences now – in his second go-round with the Timberwolves – are varied. How much has he improved vs. how much have the Wolves flat-out gotten better since he left in the middle of the lost 2010-11 season? Well, that’s an interesting question. We’ll attempt to answer it, and as usual the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
*First off, there is no doubt the Wolves are better. He was drafted in Brewer’s final two years, the Kurt Rambis years, the Wolves won 32 games combined. The top six guys in minutes during Brewer’s rookie season with the Wolves, 2007-08, were Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Marko Jaric, Rashad McCants, Sebastian Telfair and Brewer. The typical starting lineup in that final season, 10-11, was Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Darko Milicic, Luke Ridnour and Wes Johnson, with Brewer playing heavy minutes off the bench. You get the picture. This year’s team is so much better it’s not even funny.
*Also, Brewer came in with unfair expectations. He was drafted as a shooting guard/small forward, and his rookie season was the first year post-KG. But he was never going to be a typical shooting guard in that, well, his forte is not shooting. So when he didn’t score as much as a top-10 pick might be expected to score, all his other talents looked diminished.
*That said, Brewer has definitely become a better player. As he told us on Wednesday, he probably needed to leave Minnesota in order to find his niche and learn better “how to play.” What he meant by that is finding his niche, which meant channeling his hustle and defensive energy into more efficient outlets and at least becoming someone teams had to guard from the three-point line. The funny thing is, his best season percentage-wise from three-point range (with at least 100 attempts) was 2009-10 with the Wolves, when he was near 35 percent. That’s about where he is this season, too. But his PER has steadily gone up to the point where it now approaches what is considered the league average of 15. He’s figured out the fine line between playing with energy and playing out of control. And he doesn’t have to do too much on this team because all the pieces fit together so nicely. Brewer is shooting 50 percent from the field, including an absurd 56.3 percent on 2-pointers. Much of that has to do with layups on the break – many triggered by Love’s outlet passes.
Where does that leave us? Well, pretty much where we thought it would. Brewer has become more efficient, and if he can make 30-35 percent of his three-pointers while playing good defense, he has value. He’s also pretty much the perfect fit on this year’s Wolves – as opposed to being pretty much the worst possible fit his first time around.
Note: Brewer in the above video (you can see it if you are viewing the individual post) said he is improving at golf and might want a rematch from what happened five years ago.