May 4, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer (13) during the first half of game one against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
Since joining the Denver Nuggets this past off-season, Corey Brewer has made a significant impact on the squad. At just 25 years old, Corey is young, athletic and full of energy. George Karl has even seen fit to insert him as a starter as the Nuggets work through a tough injury situation. Do the numbers back up his tireless efforts on the floor? Let’s take a look.
This season, we've watched Brewer fly all over the court. He's constantly running for fast-break attempts, darting between screens for steals, and finding ways that he can influence the game with his length. He certainly passes the eye test for being a player that you want to help get your team moving in transition.
However, it must be pointed out: statistically, Brewer is not a great basketball player. He is a "hustle guy" - and a good one, at that, in the vein of Jon Brockman (that our Scott Hastings so dearly loves), but he should only be used as such. To wit:
- In his 5 seasons in the NBA, Brewer has never shot better than 49% from the field.
- His career three-point shooting percentage is an abysmal 31.6%.
- Despite his size (6'9" - I didn't even realize he was that tall) - Corey only collects 3.2 rebounds per game.
- He shoots just 69.7% from the FT line.
- His career average ORTG (higher is better, baseline = 100) is just 97, while his career average DRTG (lower is better, baseline = 100) is 110.
(ORTG, or "Offensive Rating" is points produced per 100 possessions. DRTG, or "Defensive Rating" is points allowed per 100 posessions.)
At 31%, you don't want Corey Brewer shooting between 3 and 22 feet, 11 inches. Ick. (click for big)
Brewer is great when he plays "within himself", but he is hurting the Nuggets when he is on the floor this year. Why? Here's a list of players:
- Danilo Gallinari
- Nene Hilario
- Ty Lawson
- Andre Miller
- Arron Afflalo
- Kenneth Faried
- Rudy Fernandez
- Timofey Mozgov
- Kosta Koufos
- Chris Andersen
- Julyan Stone
When on the floor, Brewer has a higher USG% (estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor) than ALL of them.
You probably don't want Corey Brewer's name in front of numbers 4 through 14 on this list (click for big).
The only players on the squad he does not have a higher USG% than is Jordan Hamilton and Al Harrington. This USG% is in part influenced by the injuries the Nuggets have suffered this year, but he is still using possessions at a rate higher than at any other point in his career (other than his brief stint with the Dallas Mavericks last season).
Now ask yourself: for a player who shoots a career 41% from the floor, hits 70% of his free throws, and just 32% from three, is that who I want using a huge portion of the plays on this team?
I like Corey’s game. I think he's a hard worker, he has good character, and he can help in ways that are not necessarily captured by statistical analysis. He ignites the team when he comes in because he runs almost every play, something that the Nuggets have been frustratingly inconsistent in doing this season.
But for the Nuggets to succeed, Brewer and the rest of the team must understand that they are better served when Brewer brings his hustle and athleticism when they sense a spark is needed, and sub him out when the engine of the team is humming again. In other words, when Corey starts to shoot jumpers instead of run the lane, he needs to come out.
Brewer is just that, a spark - he can get the fire lit, he just doesn't have the game to keep it going.