#NuggetsRank No. 9: Corey Brewer

As we progress through #NuggetsRank our next player is the physical manifestation of the stats versus scouting debate.  Corey Brewer is a player who does almost nothing well that can be quantified by statistics, but he has managed to be ranked ninth on Denver’s stacked roster. 

He cannot make three pointers (26% last season), he cannot make free throws (69.2% last season), he is not adept at setting up his teammates (placing between such spectacular set up men as Quentin Richardson and Jamario Moon in assist rate) nor does he rebound (Andre Miller posted a better rebound rate 7.0 to 6.8 despite being seven inches shorter).

The one thing Brewer does do well is steal the ball ranking seventh in the NBA last season in steals per minute (displayed here as steals per 48 minutes).  Of course as Nuggets fans have learned from Allen Iverson, steals are great, but are not necessarily a barometer of good defense.

Of course, Individual statistics only display part of the story.  Surely we can find some team stats which demonstrate Brewer’s positive impact.  Well, guess again.  One would expect the Nuggets offense to be slightly worse with Brewer on the court seeing as how he is not a particularly good scorer, but certainly their defense is better with Brewer on the court, than without him.  Brewer is a defensive specialist, right?

Well, Denver’s offense is worse with Brewer on the court compiling an offensive efficiency of 111.5 with Brewer on the pine and 109.7, which is still fantastic, with Brewer on the court.  Shockingly the Nuggets defense is a porous 106.8 with Brewer on the court and that is no different than the 106.8 defensive efficiency they produce without him.

If we transition to adjusted plus/minus, Brewer looks a little better receiving an adjusted one year plus/minus rating of 1.51, which basically means Brewer has a positive net effect when on the floor when considering the caliber of players he is playing with and against.  Brewer did receive the fourth best adjusted plus/minus of all Nuggets players.  Of course, the efficacy of adjusted plus/minus takes a big hit thanks to Al Harrington’s positioning on the list.

Again, how is it that Corey Brewer can possible rank as highly as ninth?

Brewer does a couple of things very well.  First of all, his steals are a big boost for a team that relies so heavily on transition offense.  Equally as important, Brewer is able to deflect and intercept passes without taking numerous unnecessary risks.  Brewer is not a lock down defender by any means, but he plays hard on defense all the time and he is rarely out of position.

Offensively, Brewer is a blur in transition and is one of the only Nuggets who know how to move without the ball on offense.  He is adept at sneaking along the baseline and popping out at the rim from behind the defense for a quick layup.

Finally, Brewer is a fantastic teammate.  Always smiling, and always positive.  When analyzing players, it is easy to forget what happens behind the scenes.  It was great to see Brewer interact with the Dallas Mavericks when he was given his championship ring on opening night last season.  Despite only being with the Mavericks for three months, there was a genuine excitement from the Mavs to see him receive his ring.

In conclusion, either we are sophisticated basketball minds for recognizing Corey Brewer’s value despite the requisite statistical evidence, or we are being suckered in by intangibles and overrating a player who is below average in almost every way.

Brewer certainly has many flaws as a player, but as long as his body holds up, he will always be welcome on someone’s roster and right now Denver is fortunate that he is on theirs.

  • CJP32

    All this whilst dealing with the death of his father mid year. The dude is a winner, 2 NCAA rings and 1 NBA ring. 14 teams chased him when the Knicks decided they couldnt give him minutes and Dallas swooped on him with a 3 year deal. Denver were fortunate to grab him for nothing and he had a great year, with no clear defined role.

    GK loves his energy and praises his bball IQ. I think Charlie you focus to much on the negative and not enough on the positive of Brewer. One thing was pretty clear last season – he gives 110% every single game and you wont see him complain. Whether its 5 minutes or 25, he goes hard. I believe that Brewer has a role here now and if we can keep him for another few years (cheap) than I say why not!

  • Jeff

    I love Brew Dog. He often goes on steaing, dunking, shot making tears that completely change the energy of the game. And he’s definitely been working on his 3 ball this offseason. He’s one guy on the bench I have never regretted seeing check in. But you’re right, he’s not a “great” player by any means.

  • EWilson

    On a young team, particularly, having someone who shows everyone the proper attitude and effort is worth his weight in gold. Every minute Brewer gets will be the result of his effort and attitude, and that has to rub off on the younger guys learning their place both on the team and in the league.

  • http://yahoo mile high

    Brewer is under-rated. He is a good player to have and we are lucky to have him.

  • Ban Johnson

    Love the guy.

    The energy in PC when Brewer went on his game 6 tear against the Lakers was better than any I’ve ever experienced there. That game was a team effort, of course, but watching Brewer put the final daggers somehow made it extra special. His enthusiasm is very genuine and very infectious.

    (small note: the dig against Al Harrington was unnecessary. It’s pretty well-documented now across the NBA that bigs who spread the floor have a positive effect on a team’s offense. Whatever else his faults, Harrington is one of the best in the league at doing it. Nuggets need to find a way to fill that void this year — whether small-ball with Gallo or Chandler, or the development of Randolph.)

  • Denver4ever

    IMO, had Brewer not become a key contributor in Dallas’ title run I would have said that he’s a bust. But no, his offensive spark is too important to be bust-worthy. He’s a winner and there are no stat-geeks who will ever see that unless they see the real game.

  • Ryan

    He’ll never live up to his billing as a top-10 draft pick, some were comparing him to a poor man’s Scottie Pippen, but he’s definitely found his niche as an effort guy off the bench. Some of his impact, as Jeremy alluded to, may come off the court, by pushing the other players in practice and showing other players how to work hard. While it’s fun to make fun of Harrington’s “defense” (might have to think of a new word to describe it), his offensive contributions had a net positive effect and bench scoring may prove to be one of the Nuggets’ weaknesses this year. Plus, Al at least acted like he cared, unlike Miller’s ambivalence on defense and playing with the emotion of a corpse.

  • Nugznazty

    Last game was great, hopefully his 3’s have really improved.

  • Landry

    I’ve always thought Brewer is the only one that truly put the Nuggets from being the Houston Rockets(before they traded their team). We have an overall toughness with him and his lanky skills. Like a cobra he pounces on steals like a fiend so I will always welcome his pesky defense along with the air balls.

  • jake

    Good to see how you guys view him. I remember him and Joakim in the finals with the Gators, I was really intrigued by him. Too lanky not to shoot lights out, and yet he hogged up all the minutes they could find him. He’s a glutton for competition, and he isn’t focused on a win, he’s focused on what he can do right now to contribute and not take away from the success of the team on the floor right now. He’s an alpha dog, and he knows that sharing the load is the fastest way to carry it. He’s responsible with his play and his attitude and is a consumate professional. Not to mention he has the best posture in the NBA. (Track that stat, nerds)

    All this to say, I agree with your placement of this long crazy grinning drink of water. I think he’s inside and out a champion, and given time he will prove invaluable when it comes to stabilizing and teaching guys like Randolph and JaVale what it is to be a man every night in this league. Those two are borderline headcases, you can see it on their faces. CBrew will undoubtedly have a positive impact on their growth and maturation as humans. Imagine a guy like JaVale McGee or Anthony Randolph with the inner maturity/dedication to self improvement of a Bill Walton or Hakeem Olajuwan. What then would be the look of this organization?

  • GK4Prez

    I like Brew. I think he was probably the best finisher in the open court for the Nuggets last year and even though he missed a few break-aways, he still finished most of them.

    He does gamble for steals and comes up with a large amount of them, but when he gets beat on them, it hurts the team. But, this could be more the system than anything.

    When he got his ring, the Mavs were in a tough series against the Lakers in LA and Brew was the guy that helped bust an early pivotal road game wide open in that series, and the Mavs didn’t look back after it happened. Several of the players on that team credit him for that win/series. It makes sense really because he didn’t do anything spectacular via the box score, but the little things that don’t show up in one are exactly what he brings.

    I don’t know what his future holds after this season with the Nuggets, but I am going to continue to enjoy watching him play while he is on the team.

  • GK4Prez

    I find myself saying that I like such and such player quite often in this ranking series. Truth be told, I like this team from top to bottom. Yes, I think they still need to make a 3 for 1 type of trade, but if they don’t, I am not going to complain because it is a good group of players that genuinely seems to get along well on/off the court.

    • jake

      If you’re talking 3 for 1, who is out there and available that discernably upgrades our team without disrupting the flow? One I could have pictured was Andre Iguodala. We already have him. Who? Who do you want? I’m totally open to obvious upgrades, but if an obvious upgrade with a favorable contract doesn’t present itself, I think we stand and deliver.

      • dynamo.joe

        Not a 3 for 1, but Jeremy Evans. Young guy, costs nothing, good potential.

        I don’t think you can get Harden, but I think you could get Sefolosha.

  • nugswin

    A lot of people look at Brewer and see the, intensity, hustle, steals and breakaway layups and say what a great player! And due to those thing he brings he, once in a while, can be a real difference maker in a game.

    But your eyes are lying to you if you see those things and decide that he’s really a top player who needs minutes, the numbers just don’t measure it. Well, yes they do. He’s a lousy assist guy, a lousy rebounder, not very strong so kind of a one-dimensional defender, and a poor shooter. For every game he can come in and win you there will be three that he’ll not bring enough to the table and you’ll lose if you rely on him.

    Having said that it’s not bad that he’s on the team. His professionalism and effort can count for something, especially with a young team. And he’s definitely an NBA quality player and good enough that as an 11th or 12th guy he’s a real indicator of just how deep the Nuggets are. But if we are a team that intends to compete to win the West (and why shouldn’t we?) then there should be games that he gets no floor time at all.

  • S MAC

    I think Brewer is very undervalued…. I think alot of people hate on him when he brings so much to the table… Effort alone is unmatched by anybody for 82 games and by far the best end to end runner in the league.I think he is a legit starter in the league and if his shot starts to fall regular watch out sky is the limit…Denver you never miss a good thing til it’s gone…

    • CJP32

      I agree, he is still young enough to make some noise in the NBA – just needs to get that opportunity. It was only 3 years ago in ‘Sota that he started all 82 games, averaged 13 ppg, hit threes, defended well. Then ‘Sota went all stupid and grabbed Beasley (now gone) drafted Wes Johnson (now gone) and Wayne Ellington (now gone), traded for Martell Webster (now gone). Some ‘Sota fans were happy to see Brewer gone, but I bet most still wish he was still there – he was a fan favourite and was starting to find his niche.

      In Denver, Brewer has the ‘me vs everyone else’ attitude and it reflects on the court – he plays hard. You can tell when he plays he’s acting like he still has something to prove. I hope management reward that and keep him in Denver.

    • dynamo.joe

      See that’s the problem right there. “If his shot starts to go in….”, well his shot has never gone in and there is no reason to imagine that in his 6th year in the league he suddenly realized “oh, hey, if I hit a higher percentage of my shots, I will get more minutes”. That’s the equivalent of calling him stupid.

      Corey Brewer IS a hard worker and he DOES have a good attitude. That hard work and can do attitude has lifted him to a spot where he makes about 50-100 times as much as the rest of us as a sub-par basketball player. By maxing out his potential he reached a point where he should be providing injury and blowout insurance as a 3rd option on a good team.

      • nugswin

        Word.

  • S MAC

    Yeah people labeled him a bust right away but could somebody name me a wing that Minnesota has developed from Mccant to Foye to Brewer to Johnson Webster Beasley whomever…And in that time he had a shorting season with the ACL tear and then came back to average 13 and play hard night in night out… I feel he will be a starter with another team before season end and will be up for most improved player award..

    • CJP32

      Really? You don’t think he has a place here in Denver? I realise that Chandler is back, and Gallo is healthy and JHam could have a breakout year…but Denver won’t give Brewer away for nothing, they will want something in return won’t they?

      Seems like a waste if he isn’t utilised here, especially when he knows the system and thrives in it. To me, the combined production of Brewer/JHam is worth much more than the play of Chandler. I really feel that this hip injury will trouble him all season. A cheap Brewer is better than an injured/overpaid Chandler.

  • jake

    Chandler at number 7 will be traded, probably with Mozzy. I foresee it, but I don’t necessairly like it. Unless it’s a guy like Sefolosha… he’d look nice slotted next to Iggy for a must have perimiter stop.