Corey Brewer: It’s the Little Things

During the offseason Corey Brewer signed a deal worth a little more than nine-million guaranteed dollars to play a second stint for the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Hopefully, for the Wolves sake, he’s able to compensate for the loss of Andrei Kirilenko. AK47 turned away Minnesota’s offer worth 10 million dollars and took a pay-cut to join the Brooklyn Nets.
 
George Karl, awarded Coach of the Year honors last season, described him as a “very interesting player.” 
Brewer started two games for the Karl with Denver Nuggets and appeared in all 82 games last season.
 
He’s averaged 10 points and 3 rebounds per game thus far in his career, however — he scored 16 points per game last season in 80 appearances off-the-bench. After only managing to shoot 29 percent from the three-point during the year, CBS’s Zach Harper brought to light a particular element spotlighting Brewer’s upside upside — his ability to contest shots, leak out, and eventually score, in transition. 
 
In the Timberwolves season opening victory against the Magic Brewer scored 12 of his 16 in transition, shooting 1 of 2 from the free-throw line and 1 of 4 from long-distance. He failed to hit from the left corner, his hotspot, despite shooting over 40 percent on 49 of 119 attemps from there last season.
 
Neither Derrick Williams or Shabazz Muhammad played in the season opener and Chase Budinger will remain sidelined with an knee-injury, Brewer’s the only one Head Coach Rick Adelman can confidently start at small forward. Where he makes an impact most is before the leak-out — on defense. 
 
Is he the Timberwolves new, lock-down, defensive specialist? Let’s take a look.
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Out of a Magic timeout, Brewer is assigned to defended the inbounder (Arron Afflalo) who throws the inbound pass to Victor Oladipo. On plays from the sideline and under the hoop, the inbounder is always a threat to score — Brewer’s task is not an easy one.
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Afflalo heads into the paint and pauses near the restricted area for a moment while two teammates approach from the free-throw line to screen Brewer. NBA team’s won’t often switch on screens unless it’s coordinated prior to the a play as an in-game adjustment or situational strategy. This defensive philosophy is known as ‘lock and trail’. Brewer must fight to close the gap between on Afflalo after screens spring him loose in order to contest the shot. As you can tell from the clock in the picture above, this is a critical possession late in the game.
(Below) Brewer snakes his way around a weak screen set by Magic forward Solomon Jones.
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The second screen, in my opinion, was a missed moving screen call despite the league stating this would be a point of emphasis this season. Anyway, Nikola Vucevic sets a strong screen that’s more difficult than the first for Brewer to work around.
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Look at the space Afflalo has after receiving the pass.
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 This is very, very good contesting of Afflalo’s jumper considering the work Brewer needed to do fighting through screens and closing the gap of open space.
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 This is the best look at how difficult Brewer makes shooting as an opposing scorer.
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(Above) Here’s an important possession late in the game, the Wolves need a bucket. Ricky Rubio fires up a midrange jumper, Love is crashing down the lane and Brewer is in the far corner. Afflalo stands between Brewer, the basket and K-Love and is unable to box-out both — he must choose, between the two, which player to put a body on (Below).
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The defender chooses wrong. Brewer takes advantage, skying for the rebound, tipping the ball into the hoop off glass and giving the Wolves a one-point lead late in the game.
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 Unlike the inbound play in the Magic ran out of a timeout, Afflalo heads to the top of the key, cuts through the double-screen toward the basket and back toward the nearside — Brewer is with him, again, the entire way. Orlando attempts going to a similar isolation scenario for the the game’s final possession during regulation.

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It’s not a terrible look for a game-winner, but Brewer makes it a difficult shot for any player in the league.
The game heads to overtime, the Wolves win the tip but commit a shot clock violation on their first possession.
This is the first Magic possession during the overtime.
Vucevic attempts to set a down-screen hoping to free space for Afflalo to catch a pass from Jameer Nelson on the wing, Brewer has seen this countless of times in his basketball playing career, undoubtedly, at every level. It’s a basic start to a halfcourt set.
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The dunk put the Wolves ahead by two and they wouldn’t trail the Magic through the remainder of the game. This was easy pickings for the 9th year NBA Veteran.
He doesn’t completely replace Kirilenko, but, he does certain things (like defend) at a similar level. Some nights Brewer may contribute more on the stat sheet than one might expect, but, it’s his defensive intangibles and his ability to sneak out in transition that’s going to help this Wolves team win. Look for him to improve his backdoor cutting from the corner in offensive sets, something we didn’t see much of on Wednesday but will hopefully see improvement on during tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.