No, seriously. Corey Brewer smiles a lot.

On the bench during games. On the court during games. In the locker room. Out with the team. After games when he plays well. After games when he plays poorly. When you ask him about his start in Minnesota, where he nearly fell out of the league. When you ask him about the passing of his father from diabetes, as he remembers how hard he worked and how much he loved him.

It’s this huge, face-encompassing, happy-go-lucky smile with no snark or sarcasm, and the Nuggets’ best bench player has got it on his face seemingly every minute of every day.

So why does he smile so much?

“Man, I get to play basketball … for a living!” he said. “Why wouldn’t I smile all the time?”


Corey Brewer has finally made it in the NBA. After reaching the top of the college game as a repeat national champion at Florida, then being drafted seventh overall in 2007 and finding himself in what he calls the “toughest situation” of his career, being traded away in the Melo deal, only to be waived, and spending a year on the bench for a championship team, rarely seeing the floor, Brewer has come into his own.

He’s the Nuggets’ spark off the bench, the defensive pitbull whom they sick on opponents to create havoc, the leak-out machine, the emotional spark that’s caused me to start calling him TNT. He goes off the second he’s lit.

Brewer is sixth among players playing 20 minutes a game in steal percentage. He has developed into a tremendous on-ball defender. The perception is that he continues to gamble, and he does, but he’s adapted to become like a poor man’s Tony Allen, attacking the dribble or trapping the ball-handler on the pick and roll, then recovering with swinging arms. And effort. Always effort.

First up the floor, first to the ball, first to the rim. The Nuggets score the most points off turnovers, their bread and butter, when Brewer is on the floor of any player to play the entire season (Wilson Chandler has had a slightly bigger impact in fewer games). His presence leads to the second-most points in transition of any player on the team to play the full season.

His presence is undeniable. And though his shot is still a complicated subject, bear in mind this. The Nuggets desperately, badly need a corner 3-point shooter. Brewer is 40 percent from the left corner, 30 percent from the right. It’s everywhere else that he struggles.

“I like the corner three,” Brewer said. “I’ve been working on it. It’s been getting better and better. Now I gotta work on knocking shots down at the top of the key.”

Brewer has been working, every day, to get better as an NBA player. The amazing part? If he wasn’t? He’d kind of be fine with that.

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