Corey Brewer carving out role with Nuggets

Corey Brewer plays the game with emotion. - Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Corey Brewer plays the game with reckless abandon and his coach calls him his, "wild, wildcard".

"I think he (Corey Brewer) has had a great summer," said Nuggets Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri. "He has been one of the very active ones in the gym."

Brewer plays the role of the energy man in the NBA. He is the cliche of giving 110-percent, every day.

"He's a wild wild-card," said Nuggets head coach George Karl. "His energy, his force is definitely felt. I think the opposing team is afraid of him and sometimes I'm afraid of him. He's one of those players that most coaches are afraid of."

Karl is speaking about the reckless style with which Brewer attacks the game. When the Nuggets need a pick-me-up it's Brewer who is usually called upon. Perhaps miscast in Minnesota as something he was not; the former 7th overall pick of the 2007 draft has been carving out a new role with the Nuggets. But has he found a home with this team?

"Right now in this situation, it's a good situation," said Corey Brewer. "It's one of those things where whatever I got to do to help the team win, whatever we need, I try to bring."

Brewer is entering the 2012-13 season on the final year of his contract that will pay him approximately $3.2 million. He's a two-time NCAA champion (2006, 2007 with the Florida Gators) and an NBA champ too (2011 with the Dallas Mavericks). Brewer is heading into his 6th NBA season, but he's still just a youngster.

"I'm the third oldest on the team and I'm 26 years old," said Corey Brewer at media day on Oct. 1st.

Brewer, like many of his teammates, has a lot to prove this season. The Nuggets are in need of consistent bench scoring, reliable outside shooting, and defenders. Brewer is confident in his offensive game after putting in a lot of time this off-season.

"I feel good right now, I'm real confident and the ball is going in the hole," Brewer said. "When you see the ball go in the hole it makes you confident and you shoot it better."

When I asked him how he improved his outside shot, Brewer quickly had a reply. "A lot of repetition, a lot of shots," said Brewer. "Me and coach (John) Welch have been shooting, shooting, and shooting."

Brewer's first season in the NBA (2007-08) he shot just 36 three pointers and made only seven of them (19.4%) while playing in 79 games and averaging 22.8 minutes per game. After playing in just 15 games during the 2008-09 season, due to injury, Brewer came back in the 2009-10 season with a new element to his game, stretching the floor. He went 82-237 from downtown (34.6%) that season and averaged a career high 13 points per game and started all 82 games for the Timberwolves.

After a season in which the T-Wolves tried to create some buzz for Brewer to win the NBA's most improved player award, the team began reducing his role. He went from starting every game and playing 30 minutes a night, to the 2010-11 season where he started just 22 of the 56 games he would play for the Wolves before being shipped off to the New York Knicks as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade.

Brewer came out of the University of Florida billed as a winner and fierce defender. He tweaked his game to include three-point shooting to help his cause in Minnesota and has been working to improve on his shot ever since. Still, not a dead-eye shooter, but a young player still working on his game. Brewer is still a fierce defender and one that fits perfectly into the Nuggets' defensive scheme of creating chaos to initiate turnovers.

"I can't teach somebody to play defense like me because I do things that you're not supposed to do to be honest with you," said Brewer. "It just works for me because I'm a skinny guy and can get to places you shouldn't be able to get to. In practice, I try to do the right things, but in the games I'm more of a chaos guy."

An interesting way to describe one's defensive game. It reminded me of Barry Sanders talking about not really knowing what his mind was telling his body to do while he was running the football in the NFL. It was all about instincts for Sanders. I asked Brewer if that was similar to how it is for him on the court.

"It just kind of happens, I read and react and it works for me," Brewer said. "I can kind of see things about to happen so I can cut through passing lanes."

Brewer tallied 72 steals last season for the Nuggets in just 59 of the team's 66 games and in just 21.8 minutes per game. That was good enough for 39th in the league last season, to put that in perspective, Landry Fields played in all 66 games for the Knicks, averaged 28.7 minutes per game and tallied 79 steals - good for 33rd in the league. Brewer's steals per game was notched at 1.22 - good for 29th in the league. And if you take Brewer's steals per 48-minutes stat, he ranks out with 2.69 steals per game - good for 7th in the league.

It's no surprise when Brewer enters the game that the pace picks up and the Nuggets typically go on a mini-run. It's because Brewer is causing all hell to break loose on the defensive end.

"He can come in the game and hurt you with offense; he can hurt you with defense," said Karl. "His confidence offensively is definitely higher than it was last year."

The talk on Brewer has been shifting from him being a defensive presence to more of a complete player. At just 26 years-old, Brewer is still maturing and finding his game. The big theory in the NBA is that you are who you are by the time you are 27 years-old in the league. Brewer turns 27 years-old in March and will have plenty of time to show how his role with the Nuggets is emerging this season. But Brewer also knows that nothing is certain in the NBA.

"It's going to be tough (finding minutes)," said Brewer. "We have a lot of good guys and a lot of good players, a lot of it is going to be up to Coach (Karl) though. It's a good problem to have, (Karl) has a lot of options and he can put a lot of combinations out there, so it's a good problem when you got a lot of guys that can play."

Brewer knows he can play and Denver's wild wild-card is ready to go.

"He gives us so much energy and plays with so much emotion," said Ujiri. "It helps the team and we're excited about that."

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A little Off Topic with Brewer:

Nate Timmons: What have you been doing for fun? Seen any good movies lately?

Corey Brewer: I just went and saw Sinister. That was a little different and I saw House at the End of the Street. It's (horror movies) what I've been into lately, I'm usually a comedy guy, but it's something a little different. And we go bowling a lot as a team.

NT: What's your bowling average?

CB: It depends. It depends on how I'm feeling that day.

NT: How about these two rookies out here, Quincy Miller and Evan Fournier?

CB: They are going to be good. Quincy (Miller) is going to be really good. He's long and athletic and he's just learning the game. He's just 19 years-old, they're both 19 (years-old) actually, so it's crazy. Evan (Fournier) has been playing pro basketball so he kind of gets it a lot more and he's going to be good for us.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nate_Timmons
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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