Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quick Thoughts on Brewer Deal (Part One)

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 3:50 PM

ronnie_brewer_09.jpg
The Grizzlies acquired Utah Jazz swingman Ronnie Brewer this afternoon in exchange for a protected first-round pick in 2011.

Since I'm going on radio with Chris Vernon (730FoxSports.com) at 4:20 this afternoon, I don't have a lot of time now, but some quick thoughts on the deal:

Scouting Report: Brewer, a 24-year-old Arkansas native with strong area ties, is a versatile 6'7" perimeter player. He's a good athlete with a good handle but a shaky jumper.

This season, Brewer has averaged 10 points, 3 boards, and 3 assists in 31 minutes per game, shooting 50% from the floor and 26% from three-point range. This production is down from the past two seasons, when Brewer averaged 14 and 12 points per game, respectively, in similar playing time with much higher shooting-percentages.

Brewer has good ball-handling and playmaking skills for a wing player, is good in transition, and is a quality defender, if something less than a stopper.

Brewer's numbers had been on a steady decline this season, down to 6 points per game on 40% shooting in February. This is a concern, as is his weak outside shooting, but with his age, athleticism, and versatility, I feel pretty comfortable about Brewer being at least a quality rotation player now and going forward.

How He Fits: Brewer has been a high-percentage shooter for the Jazz in part for his ability to get lay-ups within that team's bumper-car offense. To put Brewer in perspective: 53% of his shot attempts this season have come in the paint, a big number for a perimeter player and one consistent with his previous seasons. This is the same percentage of interior shots as Tyreke Evans this season.

The difference: 27% of Evans interior attempts have been assisted. By contrast 73% of Brewer's inside attempts have been assisted.

What does this mean? Brewer has been really good at scoring around the basket, but not as a slasher creating for himself. He's great at making cuts off the ball, which is how the Jazz run their offense.

Can Brewer get those kinds of shots on a Grizzlies team that's more iso-oriented? And, if not, can he become more prolific at creating for himself?

That question aside, Brewer should immediately become the Grizzlies' best reserve and with his versatility, should garner 25-30 minutes a game as a sixth man — and that's a conservative estimate.

In terms of how he'll be used, Brewer can certainly back up both O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay at both wing positions, but given the talent on hand — the fact that the best reserve prior to Brewer has been another wing, Sam Young, and that the back-up point-guard play has been so poor — this move should necessitate that the Grizzlies deploy an O.J. Mayo/Ronnie Brewer backcourt as part of the regular rotation, especially in match-ups against bigger backcourts.

Brewer's ball-handling ability will make that backcourt more viable than Mayo/Sam Young and help ease ball-handling duties for Mayo while he's getting more experience on the ball. And using that line-up will help the Grizzlies match-up better defensively against bigger backcourts that have previously given the team problems.

Brewer doesn't at all address the team's need for better three-point shooting, but otherwise can be a huge help.

I'm running out of time before radio duty. I'll follow up later with another post on the long-term aspects of the trade as it relates to the coming off-season and other team-building considerations.

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