NBA Free Agency: How Does Corey Brewer Fit the Wolves?


January 3, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jose Barea (11) drives to the basket against Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer (right) during the first half at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple news outlets are reporting that the Timberwolves and Minnesota’s beloved Corey Brewer have reached an agreement on some form of a 3-year, $15 million deal. There may or may not be options and/or partial guarantees on that third year, but we don’t know for sure yet.

For the record, I’m okay with the move. Yes, the process that got us to this point is painful at every turn, to be sure — having C.J. McCollum fall into their laps but drafting Trey Burke instead, trading Burke for two lower picks in a shallow draft, and selecting Shabazz Muhammad, a second round talent, with the 14th overall pick. Since then, the Wolves tried and failed to trade Greg Stiemsma, Derrick Williams, J.J. Barea, and Luke Ridnour, eventually waiving Stiemsma and seeing him sign with New Orleans for a nearly identical contract.

They nearly had J.J. Redick in their grasp, but recovered nicely and inked Kevin Martin. Now, the Wolves have been forced to trade Ridnour and his expiring contract to Milwaukee in order to clear space for Brewer. So putting aside the  gross misuse of assets over the past few weeks, is the Brewer signing a good one?

As stated above, I’m okay with it. At $5 million per year, it certainly isn’t great value, or really even good value. But given the market, it’s at least stomachable (not a word, but the proper ‘word’ to use here, I’m sure).  Of course, Brewer has some advantages over some of the other fringy players still on the market — he has a (mostly deserved) reputation as a good defender, he’s good in transition, and he plays with energy. He’s also played here before, which really shouldn’t matter, but it somehow does. (Not to mention his RING that he won with the Mavericks….some folks think that matters a lot…)

So how will Brewer fit in with the Wolves? For one, he’ll be a terror in transition. “Terror” is a word that I chose very purposefully…he isn’t actually all that efficient, scoring 1.13 points per possession in transition in 2013, good for just 152nd in the NBA. He also shot just 58% in transition, including just 15 of 50 from deep (30%). (All numbers per Synergy.)

The potential for Brewer to do something spectacular in transition is always there — just ask Derek Fisher. The defense knows it too, but they also know he might just throw the ball out of bounds or dribble it off his foot. In fact, Brewer turned the ball over 9.7% of the time in transition last season.

"“Corey’s a really interesting player. He’s a player that both coaches sometimes are scared of. Sometimes it gets a little too crazy, but I love him. I think he’s very important to our basketball team.” – George Karl"

Oddly, Brewer still holds the Timberwolves’ franchise records for most consecutive games with a made three pointer. Of course, he is not an especially proficient shooter, making just 29.6% from deep last year and only 26% in his first season in Denver. He’s a career 29.8% long range shooter…not exactly what Saunders and Co. allegedly set out to find this off-season.

But, how can he be used by Rick Adelman to ensure that he’s a net positive on the court for his squad? Coach Karl allowed Brewer to run wild and jack up three-pointers at will. Which is fine, of course, if the player in question could shoot three-pointers at a semi-efficient rate. Here’s assuming that Adelman will put reigns on Brewer, bringing him off the bench in relief of Kevin Martin to shore up the defense or next to Martin in a small-ball lineup.

While Brewer was overall very inefficient in 2012-13, he was surprisingly good at one thing when it came to his jump-shooting: he shot 49 of 119 (41.18%) from the left corner. Take a look:

Weird stuff. He shot from that corner more than he did from anywhere else, too. If they can convince him to never shoot from the wings and above the key, he can be a useful offensive player in the half-court.

Let’s take a quick look at the other Wolves that will be relied upon to connect from deep and space the floor for Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. We’ll look at Chase Budinger’s 2011-12 chart, as last year was interrupted by injury and Chase was no doubt not near 100% down the stretch. This is what the Wolves traded for prior to last season:

Yeah…there’s a guy who can knock down a corner three with some consistency. And if you think it’s starting to look a little bit better…hang on to your hats. It’s about to get fantastic. Here is Adelman’s old friend, Kevin Martin:

Yep, Martin led the league in three-point percentage from the left corner, hitting at an unbelievable 50% clip in 2012-13. With Brewer’s 41% mark from that same corner and Budinger’s overall 48% shooting from both corners, it’s going to be fun. Adelman’s offense is especially conducive to open corner three-point shots, and we all know that Ricky Rubio finds open players in the corners like it’s nobody’s business.

Lest we forget to mention the outside shooting proficiency of Mr. Love. The funny thing is that his favorite spot to shoot threes is on the wings — in 2011-12, he shot almost exactly 40% from the two slots combined. So the Wolves should actually have the arc pretty well covered…kind of weird, I know.

The 2013-14 edition of the Wolves will absolutely have it’s issues, especially on defense. But they should shoot oodles of open three-pointers, courtesy of Pekovic clogging the paint and Rubio finding his new toys beyond the arc. The Wolves’ bench will be above average as well, and we can look forward to one of the best and most finely-tuned offenses in the league.

Wolves fans, congratulations. Despite the multiple off-season missteps that we’ve grown accustomed to, the 2013-14 teamwill be fun to watch, and barring a Love/Rubio/Pekovic injury (or a rash like we saw last year), we’ve got a playoff squad on our hands. Enjoy it.