The Latest in The Corey Brewer Derby: C’s Lobbying Hard, Sasha Pavlovic a Backup
Posted by Brian Robb on Mar 2, 2011
Marc Stein of ESPN.com gets us caught up with the latest, with the C’s bringing in the rear of the pack when it comes to money it can offer, but making a strong push on all fronts otherwise:
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that Boston is pushing as hard for Brewer as anyone, given that the Celts tried to trade for Brewer before Minnesota sent him to New York as part of the three-way Carmelo Anthony deal. Celtics president Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers are said to be Brewer fans and personally lobbying him. Hard.
But Boston and San Antonio, in this case, can’t compete financially with the Dallas Mavericks, who have their full mid-level exception remaining — worth just under $4 million as of Wednesday because the figure is reduced daily from its original $5.8 million at this juncture of the season — to comfortably exceed any offer the Celtics or Spurs could make.
The Celts actually have the least to pitch financially of the three teams, sitting more than $5 million over the luxury-tax threshold and limited to offering a pro-rated share of the league minimum just as they gave Murphy. With the Spurs only about $1 million away from the tax line and likewise only possessing cap exceptions worth $1.5 and $1.2 million, respectively, Dallas would appear to have a clear bidding advantage over their neighbors from the NBA elite, fitting as it might be to see Brewer wind up with the Spurs given the frequent comparisons linking Brewer to Bruce Bowen.
Stein also mentions Sasha Pavlovic as a potential backup candidate if the C’s aren’t able to convince Brewer to come to Boston. We now wait anxiously though to see if Ainge can go 2 for 2 on his sell jobs. A few mixed perspectives on Brewer:
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop on his potential value:
Brewer may well be the league’s leading candidate to be the next Bruce Bowen, and is an interesting test case in how statistics can be used effectively to enhance, not replace, the human eye.
Basically, despite playing for a miserable Timberwolves team, he has showed up very well in almost any stat that incorporates defense — plus/minus, adjusted plus/minus, opponents’ productivity, etc. Some of that is probably an artifact of the reality that it’s easy to be efficient when you aspire to do little on offense. Brewer doesn’t take a lot of bad shots, he can feed the post, and he’s incredibly high energy so he cleans up on turnovers and with easy buckets.
Defensive statistics are among the least conclusive statistics in existence, so I’m not arguing to use those statistics to hand out contracts and roster spots. But I am arguing to use them as an early warning system, and to guide the video basketball decision-makers spend their precious time watching.
Smart teams, I’d wager, have been watching Corey Brewer for a long time for this exact reason.
And what they have been seeing is a defensive show. Once you clue in to the guy, it’s glaringly obvious that no one on the court is defending like him. He’s narrow, long, strong, quick and feisty — which is a perfect set of attributes to fight over a screen. He has great hands. He goads non-shooters into shooting, and keeps great shooters from making a catch. He talks constantly on defense — he’s not only in the right place, but he knows where everybody else is supposed to be, too.
If we lived in a world where defense was valued as much as offense, YouTube would be filled with highlights of Brewer making things unusually tough for Manu Ginobili, Kevin Durant, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and others.
I can hear what the Knicks are thinking: In Mike D’Antoni’s offense, they need to space the floor, they need to give their playing time to shooters. Even here, just looking at his career 31 percent 3-point field goal percentage is not enough. His 384 career 3 attempts include dozens of end-of-quarter heaves. He might lead the league in those. And there’s reason to suspect he has the potential to punish defenses that leave him alone: Last year, even with all those Hail Marys, he had a strech of months shooting better than 40 percent from downtown, setting a Minnesota franchise record most consecutive games with a made 3, and prompting John Hollinger to call Brewer perhaps the most improved NBA shooter ever.
The entire time he’s also (like his Gator teammates Al Horford and Joakim Noah, with whom he won two national titles, and lost just one tournament game of any kind in three years) relentlessly cheery and supportive of his teammates, racing all over the place to deliver high-fives and to pick up fallen teammates. He has stayed upbeat while being the injured and forgotten benchwarmer on a terrible team. In other words, there’s no reason to suspect he’d be a threat to any team’s chemistry.
There are NBA teams that have really embraced advanced statistical analysis. The list is long, and is headed by the likes of Houston, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. If the Knicks were among them, I can’t imagine they’d have let Brewer go. And now that he’s free to sign with a team really values him, I’ll make two predictions: Brewer will sign with a team that is sophisticated in its use of stats, and over the next couple of years, he will make that team better.
And with a bit of a negative spin on Brewer’s offense we have Rob Mahoney’s off the New York Times Off The Dribble Blog:
Brewer has no effective range to anchor his offensive performance. He still gets to the rim a fair amount, but poor shooting percentages from every other area on the floor (especially from 3-point range) completely negate the impact of those attempts.
“Three and D” specialists in the Bowen mold are useful in part because they don’t step outside themselves on offense. They spot up in the corner or run the baseline, but only impact the game offensively when gifted the opportunity. Passes out of double-teams, drive-and-kick feeds – these are the mechanisms that allow perimeter defensive specialists to score. Otherwise, such players are nonfactors on offense.
That’s not the case with Brewer, who has posted a significantly higher usage rate than Shane Battier, James Jones, or many of his other perimeter defending contemporaries. Brewer fancies himself a more active participant in the offense, and , that mindset results in a lot of errant jumpers. He doesn’t break even; Brewer is using too many possessions on low-percentage shots, and not making the kind of widespread defensive impact that could balance out his offensive deficit.
I tend to worry less about this, since in the C’s locker room a player that looks for his offense will be glued to the bench and quickly. Still, it’s important to note both sides of the argument as we wonder whether Brewer will be a useful asset if he arrives in Beantown.