Fans who have been following the Minnesota Timberwolves for a while are already familiar with Corey Brewer. The 27-year-old swingman started his career in Minnesota and had his most productive season there in 2009-10. Since then he’s won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks and played an important role for the Denver Nuggets off the bench. The Timberwolves brought him back this offseason, presumably to replace Andrei Kirilenko as the Wolves’ most potent perimeter defender.
Brewer played well for the Nuggets last season scoring 12.1 points, grabbing 1.5 steals, and converting 1.1 three pointer per game in 24.4 minutes of play. Brewer has started both of the Timberwolves’ preseason games, and will likely begin the season as their starting small forward. There is a good chance Brewer will lose his starting job when Chase Budinger returns from injury or if Shabazz Muhammad or Derrick Williams begin to play up to their potential. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, it’s a safe bet Brewer will play between 20 and 25 minutes per game.
While Brewer was brought in as a “3 & D” type player, he actually isn’t a great three-point shooter. He connected on just 29.6 percent of his threes last season, and his career average sits right around there at 29.8 percent. He likes shooting threes, though, and launched over 300 shots, or about 35% of his total attempts, from distance last season. Only one player, Monta Ellis, attempted more threes and shot at a worse percentage. Brewer has had one efficient three-point shooting season, though — back in 2009-10 with the Timberwolves he shot 34.6 percent from long range on 237 attempts. Playing alongside Ricky Rubio this year may help Brewer find better shots. Plus the addition of Kevin Martin to the Wolves’ lineup may relieve Brewer of some of his three-point shooting duties. If Brewer shoots around 250 threes and makes close to 35 percent of them, it will be a big plus for his game and the Wolves would benefit greatly.
Defense is a big issue for the Timberwolves, and it was a big reason they signed Brewer again. He ranked sixth last year in steals-per-48 minutes ahead of notable thieves like Tony Allen and Dwyane Wade. A lot of steals don’t necessarily make a player a great defender, but Brewer is a smart defensive player who can guard multiple positions. His high steal numbers are not the result of gambling on defense, rather they are the result of good transition defense and a knack for intercepting passes. Brewer may not have defensive prowess of Andrei Kirilenko in his prime, but neither did Kirilenko last year.
Brewer’s game hasn’t developed much since he left Minnesota, but it hasn’t regressed either. If he can play as well as he did in Denver last year, the Timberwolves won’t be crying for Kirilenko back. More minutes may be available for Brewer, especially at the start of the season, so he may have improved numbers. He should fit well back on the Wolves, though, whether he ends up starting or taking a bench role.