After the trade deadline when the NBA’s “mercenary period” opens, you expect to see the grizzled veterans on the losing teams to get their release and join a championship-contending team. We have seen these signings pay big dividends in the past.
So when the New York Knicks — a team in need of an athletic, defensive-minded forward — elected to let Corey Brewer walk after acquiring him in the Carmelo Anthony trade, someone with not just present, but future value entered the market. About a dozen teams lined up to sign Brewer and Brewer elected to join the Dallas Mavericks.
Brewer has had a rough and tumble road to get to his first career postseason. He really has not played significant basketball since his days at Florida.
After winning back-to-back national championships at Florida, the Minnesota Timberwolves made Brewer the seventh pick in the 2007 Draft. Minnesota traded Kevin Garnett that summer and maybe Brewer had too much expectation put on him as the raw small forward struggled. He tore his ACL in 2008 and missed pretty much the entire 2008-09 season and has struggled to completely return from that injury.
Still Brewer always showed potential, enough potential for everyone to believe in him.
And maybe all he needed was the chance to take a reduced role on a playoff-caliber team. He was named the 2007 Final Four Most Outstanding Player on a team with Joakim Noah and Al Horford while averaging 13.2 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game. He was always a guy that fit into a team better than he could star on one — as no player really starred on those Florida national championship teams.
Dallas felt that way too. The Mavericks saw a young player available on the market who gave them something they did not have — and really have not had during this 12-year run of 50 win seasons, unless you believe Josh Howard could have been happy in a secondary role. The Mavericks had plenty of shooters and decided to pick up Brewer rather than Sasha Pavlovic.
Currently, Brewer is averaging a modest 4.7 points per game in 11.3 minutes per game in just 12 games so far since the Mavericks picked him up. He is shooting 46.8 percent from the floor, way up from the 38.4 percent he was posting with Minnesota earlier this season. In per 36 minute terms, Brewer is averaging 14.8 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game. These are solid numbers for a player looking to fill in 15 minutes per game.
Brewer was brought in as much for his defensive potential than for anything else. It is a little tough to measure how he is performing there, especially considering Minnesota has been such a poor defensive team. However, if defensive rating is any indication, his 102 defensive rating with Dallas while he is on the floor marks his career high.
Brewer is still very much a bundle of potential waiting to blossom. And Dallas, a winning team, could be the place for him to find a role that fits his current skills.
He is beginning to show signs that he will indeed be a major contributor in the postseason. And he certainly has the versatility to guard twos and threes in the postseason. The rationale for signing him seems to be a good fit for him.
And Brewer is emerging and playing well.
Most notably he scored 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting in 30 minutes against the Clippers on Friday. This came after he scored 13 points in a loss to Denver. His scoring has been inconsistent — as has his playing time — but it is clear the Mavericks have big plans for Brewer.
Immediately though, Brewer is going to add an athletic versatile forward who excels at attacking the basket and can hit a jumper if you leave him open. Seeing how he won’t get as many touches as he did in Minnesota, the threat of his cutting to the hoop should help open up Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic and the rest of Dallas’ shooters.
It may have been hard to believe earlier this season, but Corey Brewer could be a key player in the postseason.