Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Help Wanted

UPDATE: Both Mark Stein and Adrian Wojnarowski are reporting that Brewer HAS signed with Dallas. Links here and here. Interestingly enough, it is a multi-year deal that will start at $2 million, according to Stein. Feel free to use this post now as a forum about Brewer and digesting more about the new Maverick.

The NBA waiver claim period is a mystical, magical time. It is a fantasy world where bit role players are MVPs, draft busts become x-factors and old, washed up veterans become locker room presence.

Maybe because this is my first full year plugged into Twitter, but it seems worse than ever before. Troy Murphy's decision to come to Boston almost felt like a mini-LeBron "Decision." He's a nice post-player that can stretch the floor and rebound, but let's not act like Boston just found another Dirk Nowitzki off the scrap heap. The Miami Heat wrangled in Mike Bibby, presumably, so they can be even worse at defending point guards.

Which brings us to where the Mavericks plan to put their stake in this waiver claim race. The two names most intriguing and most realistic are two swingmen that are only the same in position only: Corey Brewer and Kelenna Azubuike.

I have some slight negative bias towards Azubuike, mainly because he skipped out on an autograph session after I attended one of his Ft. Worth Flyers games (and yes, it is as incredibile as it sounds) the now defunct D-League team. But getting past my seven year grudge, Azubuike has actually put up some  quality numbers in a somewhat large sample size. In 2008-2009, the only season Azubuike was able to average 30 minutes per game in his career, he put up 14.4 points per game while shooting 44.8 percent from three. Impressive. But then you take into account that he played on the ridiculously paced Golden State Warriors and found himself heaving up threes more often than other NBA players. Inflated his points may be, shooting almost 45 percent from three isn't transparent. If you can shoot, you can shoot and Azubuike can shoot. Unfortunately this is where the "like Peja..." comparisons start. Once Azubuike gets the ball, he isn't likely to give it up with only 1.7 assists per game for his career and a career assist percentage of 6.9. Azubuike can rebound decently for a two-guard, with a 9.0 total rebounding percentage, which puts him right around Peja's marks and above other Maverick guards like Jason Terry. Not amazing, but nothing to worry about.

I decided to check and see how much Azubuike got to the rim, and was surprised to find that he averaged 3.7 shots at the rim per game in that 2008-2009. It's a bit misleading though, since Golden State's up and down pace helped lead to plenty of leak outs and fast breaks. His defense isn't anything to covet either, but again, we're talking about a bit player. He's a guy that can spread the floor like Peja can, but not be outmatched athletically in cases such as the Toronto game, where Peja wasn't hitting and couldn't stay in front of any of the Raptors athletic swing men.

Corey Brewer's game is perhaps opposite of Azubuike's. Brewer can't shoot. And I mean he really, really, can't shoot. A career 40.6 percent shooter from the floor and, brace yourself, 31.3 percent from behind the arc. How do you stay in the NBA without being able to do the most basic function of basketball? Defense. And lots of it. Brewer stands a lanky 6-9 and his extreme quick and athletic ability has led him to frustrate plenty of opposing small forwards and shooting guards. Brewer's been able to play sound defense on a shoddy defensive club, like Minnesota has been since Brewer arrived, so it is easy to overlook the impact he makes on the defensive end.

He plays the passing lanes, averaging 1.8 steals per game for his career and a ridiculous 2.4 (EDIT: this is per 36 minutes) this season before being shipped to New York. He gambles probably more than he should, but more often than not, he gets results.

Unfortunately, that's about all the superlatives you can heave Brewer's way. As mentioned he can't shoot and almost more alarming is his rather dreary rebounding skills. Brewer for his career averages only 3.3 (3.3!!!!!) rebounds per game, an absolute, no-good, terrible, bad number for someone that has the length and athleticism Brewer bestows. His career total rebound percentage is even uglier: 7.3. How about this -- his current season's total rebounding percentage this season is 6.1. That ties him with Steve Blake, Ray Allen and James Jones to name a few. Hell, even Jarret Jack is grabbing a higher percentage of available rebounds while he's on the floor. To wrap it up, Corey Brewer is almost a worse rebounder then he is a shooter and that's really, really tough to do. Bravo Brewer, I guess.

Not to mention that Brewer's only redeeming quality (defense) is being put to question, as Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated calls out the slippage that Brewer is facing defensively. But Brewer does have one redeeming quality that I will always love him for, which is this:

Putting your crouch in Derek Fisher's face is definitely in the top three of my list of things to do that will endear you forever to my basketball soul.

Both these players obviously have their flaws: they're on the waiver wire for a reason. Let's not overstate what one of them could bring to the Mavericks this year. Both will be filling out the final roster spot and hell, there are rumors that Sasha Pavlovic might stop by again. Neither of these players will have a lasting impact other than perhaps swinging a regular season game or two. It is up to the Mavs what they want more: another shooter to step in when Peja is cold and is more athletically gifted or a defensive minded, long small forward who can jump the passing lanes and out of the gym. And also brick shots. Many, many shots.

(Once again, the lovely sites Basketball Reference and HoopData provided the stats)


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  1. I guess you can tactically work him in against more athletic teams for the remainder of the season. And improving your shooting is not the hardest thing in the world if at least put some work into it. And he also gives you another decent option to guard KD when Marion needs rest, and he also get's Peja off the court when he's being worthless with Marion at the 4. F it, nice deal. Good "depth" addition.