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.
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