At this point in the NBA doldrums we’ve all had a chance to digest “Corey Brewer goes to the Minnesota State Fair” and its caloric implications. The feel-good angle on Brewer’s return to Minnesota has been that he’s an improved version of himself he could never have become without his travels. The feel-bad angle has been something like this excerpt from SB Nation’s Mike Prada:
Brewer is a wing player who can’t really shoot or handle the ball well, which doomed him to lottery disappointment in his first Timberwolves tenure. After bouncing around the league, he found a home in Denver, where George Karl ran a system that allowed Brewer to be a useful player without dribbling or shooting. Almost nobody in the entire league runs the lane as doggedly as Brewer does on the fast break. The Nuggets’ high-octane transition attack, as well as their fast-paced, attacking half-court offense, proved to be a perfect fit for maximizing Brewer’s strengths and limiting his weakness.
Can the Timberwolves replicate that kind of environment? Doubtful. Even though they should be a fast-paced team with Ricky Rubio’s wizardry and Kevin Love’s outlet passing, they won’t run like George Karl’s Nuggets ran last year, especially as long as they have Nikola Pekovic. It’s more likely that the Timberwolves will attempt to carve teams up in half-court situations using the deadly shooting of Love, Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger to go with Rubio’s pick-and-roll play and Pekovic’s ability to score in the paint.
Multiple problems with these statements. First off, nothing to do with Corey Brewer — Pek isn’t a slow big man — sure, he’s a big, big man, but he routinely beats his matchup down the floor in transition. Second, George Karl used to run a system that thrived on trapping defense and creating chaos. These days, really since Milwaukee, Karl has adjusted to his personnel. Corey was a great match for Karl in Denver, but Corey’s always been on his high wire and last year in Denver was as good an example of a coach playing to his player’s strengths.
The main “bad” thing Karl did was give Brewer a green light, because between Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Andre Miller and Iguodala, Corey wasn’t going to be handling the ball unless he was shooting it. With that many playmakers, it was necessary for someone to.
Still, throwing up 10.8 shots a game was his most since averaging 11.8 during his third year in the league. That year Corey led the ’09-’10 Wolves roster in minutes played, was third in scoring, shot 43% from the field and 34.6% from deep on 2.9 attempts a night compared to 3.7 his final year in Denver.
If you can’t remember the ’09-’10 Wolves roster, go look at it, it’s horrendous. I can’t even explain.
Point is, Corey Brewer is unlikely to see that many shots again in his life. We shall explore why in our next installment.