By: Mark Remme
SF | 6-9, 185 pounds
2013-14 season: 81 GP, 81 GS, 32.2 MPG, .481 FG%, .280 3FG%, 12.3 PPG, 1.7 PG, 2.9 RPG
When Corey Brewer returned to Minnesota this offseason, it represented a coming full circle, if you will, in his basketball career. No longer was Brewer the kid the Wolves drafted in 2007 out of Florida. No longer was he inexperienced at the NBA level, unable to find his niche and unfamiliar with what it takes to win in this league.
Since he left Minnesota in a mid-season trade in 2011, Brewer latched on with the Mavs and won a championship in Dallas, then thrived as a transition- and defensive-oriented wing in Denver under George Karl. Three seasons away, three postseason appearances. And three opportunities to continue growing as a player.
“I got a lot better,” Brewer said. “The first time I was here, I was bad—I’m not even going to lie, I was really bad. Let’s be honest. But I left, and I got in a good situation with George Karl. He let me play.”
This season for the Wolves, Brewer was arguably their most reliable competitor. He started 81 games, normally guarded the opposing team’s top offensive threat and was a constant threat to score on the fast break. Most importantly, Brewer operates with such a desire to win when he’s on the court. His voice in the locker room was one that exemplified that desire to succeed, and it’s that type of belief and mentality that must be present for the Wolves to get back to the postseason in the future.
Brewer did whatever the team needed him to do this past season. He averaged 12.3 points per game on the year and was second only to Ricky Rubio on the team with 1.85 per game. His transition game helped Kevin Love up his assists per game to 4.4 this year—a career high. And while his shooting was spotty, on nights when he did get into a rhythm he was able to knock down meaningful shots from 3-point range.
“[Brewer’s] a guy who’s done his role and everything else,” Adelman said.
His energy is something the Wolves hope they can feed off of next year and in future seasons.
“Running up and down, seems like he had energy forever,” Rubio said. “And he never stops.”
April 11 vs. Houston: Surprise, surprise. This game will go down as one of the craziest evenings I’ve had as a sports writer. The Wolves were playing without Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger, and we all were wondering where the Timberwolves would get their points against a Rockets team on its way toward a home seed in the West. The starting lineup of Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer, Robbie Hummel, Dante Cunningham and Gorgui Dieng isn’t typically known for its scoring. Yet Brewer’s performance was so spectacular, he carried the team throughout the night. He tied Kevin Love’s franchise record with 51 points—and he became the first Wolves player in history to score 50 in regulation. He shot 19-of-30 from the field in 45 minutes, drained a half-court shot at the end of the first half, and drained shots at the rim, mid-range, beyond the arc and at the line. He became the fourth player in NBA history (Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Rick Barry) to have 50 points and six steals in a game. He scored points 50 and 51 during a trip to the line late in the fourth. When he did it, the crowd was as loud as it had been all season. To top this memorable night off, Brewer is generally one of the first players to speak to the media. But on this night—of all nights—he was slated to take a mandatory NBA drug test and couldn’t, well, perform his end of the test right away. We media folks sat in the locker room for an hour after the game waiting for him to wrap up. But it was worth it. That night was as unique as they come in sports.
Nov. 1 vs. Oklahoma City: Brewer’s stats weren’t incredible on this night; he finished the evening 3-of-8 from the field with nine points. But on the defensive end, Brewer was a major factor in the Wolves’ 100-81 victory over the Thunder at Target Center. He bottled up eventual league MVP Kevin Durant on this night, holding him to 4-of-11 shooting with 13 total points in the game. Brewer, who was brought in to provide a defensive presence on the wing, showcased that ability in just his second game of the season. Not only did he lock down Durant on the defensive end, but he kept Durant—or whoever else defended him—sprinting around the Wolves’ half court sets with his movement. It wore the OKC defenders out in the process. Overall, a solid game for Brewer and a solid win for the Wolves.
Feb. 12 vs. Denver: Brewer was a big contributor in the Wolves’ 117-90 win over his former team at Target Center, and it came at the right time. Minnesota was on a four-game losing streak heading into this matchup against Denver, and the Wolves desperately needed a win. Brewer played 36 minutes and hit 9-of-14 shots, including a 3-pointer, and finished with 22 points. He also collected five steals in the game. That win began a stretch of six wins in seven games for the Wolves, which put them right back in the playoff chase.
Top Offseason Objectives
Brewer’s two biggest attributes are that he has an intangible winning presence (Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau compared him to former Gators teammate Joakim Noah in that regard), and his motor on the court is unmatched. He can seemingly run forever, which not only makes him a constant threat in transition but it also means he can wear his opponents down through his endurance. The one area he could continue improving for the Wolves is his corner 3 efficiency. He shot 32.3 percent from the left corner and 29.9 percent from the right this season. If he can continue working on hitting that shot in particular, it will help with spacing on the floor and the Wolves’ ability to make that one last pass for an open look. Brewer’s not known for his jump shooting by any means, but improvement in that area would be a big boost for the Wolves’ offense.
They Said It…
“The energy was great tonight, you know, the fans were behind me. I could hear them saying get 50, get 50. When you get 50, you know, it’s kind of been a disappointing year for us. To give the fans something to cheer about means a lot.”— Wolves forward Corey Brewer after scoring 51 against Houston