“All I can try to do is emulate those great quarterbacks,” Love said. “My parents never let me play football, so this is my football out there.”
He entered the NBA five years ago known for his freakish outlet passes that already drew comparisons to Unseld, but it was seldom used as a real weapon until this season, when Brewer returned as a free agent after playing nearly three seasons with the Wolves at the start of Love’s career.
Brewer is the sleek runner who seemingly never gets tired, and never tires of beating everyone down the floor. Sometimes his best defense is his offense by running his man to exhaustion on the other end.
“He just goes, that’s him,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “I don’t think I could tell him no. He’d still do it. I called a timeout the other night and we actually had a layup going the other way. I didn’t realize him and Kevin had their own play going on.”
Back together again
Love attributes the emergence of what Dallas coach Rick Carlisle calls “throwing missiles all over the place” and Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers terms “home run passes” to Brewer’s return after two-plus seasons with Dallas and Denver.
“Plain and simple,” Love said. “When Corey was on the team before, he was always looking for that. But I don’t think I had figured out yet the speed and athleticism of the NBA. Now I kind of have figured out when to throw the pass, when not to throw the pass. It even took Peyton Manning a little time to get used to the NFL.”
Wolves coaches searched during the preseason to get the team into its offense more quickly. They hoped to use Brewer in a reserve role because they liked his energy off the bench, just as then-Nuggets coach George Karl did the past two seasons. But he became the opening day starter by default when nobody else grabbed the starter’s job and … voilà!
Opponents will try to defend the Wolves’ newfound weapon by keeping players back like the Clippers did Monday or by shadowing Love and trying to block the outlet upon its release. Cleveland coach Mike Brown acknowledged doing so is difficult because Love delivers the pass so quickly and with such accuracy, and because Brewer might be league’s fastest floor runner.
“His completion percentage is pretty darn good,” said Wolves assistant coach Jack Sikma, a fine outlet-passing big man back in the day himself. “It’s not easy to do. There’s a reason it’s pretty unique. Those two guys are pretty unique.”
Brewer played wide receiver in high school, and his Portland, Tenn., team went 25-1 and won a state title his freshman and sophomore years before he quit football to concentrate on basketball. Love always wanted to play, of course, but never did.
“He’d have been good, he’d see over everybody,” Brewer said. “He makes the best passes I ever saw. I just go catch ’em and lay ’em in.”