1 Surprising Name Who Will Make a Big Impact for the New York Knicks in 2012-13
Looking at New York's roster, it doesn't appear that the six-year pro should be getting much run. The team is committed to Iman Shumpert at shooting guard, while the front office has invested more in J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd than in Brewer, who is making the veteran's minimum.
Of that quartet, Shumpert and Smith are considered to be the best offensive weapons in Mike Woodson's locker room. Unfortunately for Brewer, he might also find himself behind Kidd in this category, as he lacks Kidd's instincts and three-point shooting; Kidd shot .354 from beyond the arc last season, compared to just .275 for Brewer.
If Woodson considers the former Bull to be an offensive liability, Brewer could find himself marooned at the end of the bench. However, perhaps that perception does not match reality for Brewer.
Last season, Brewer shot just .427 from the field and .560 from the line en route to averaging 6.9 points per game for Chicago. Yet that appears to be an outlier for him, rather than the level of production Knicks fans should expect.
In fact, 2011-12 was Brewer's worst offensive season by far. Even when you factor in his recent subpar campaign, he has shot .501 from the field in his career, and his worst mark was a solid .480 prior to last season.
Brewer is not a respected offensive weapon for a number of reasons: He has attempted over 500 field goals only twice in his career, and a childhood injury left him with an funky-looking motion on the shots he does take.
Aesthetics notwithstanding, Brewer has proven over the course of his career that his ugly shots do fall. He may not look the part of an efficient scorer, but history tells us he is much more so than his peers, who have posted shooting percentages closer to .400 than .500 (and Kidd's have dipped even lower in recent years).
There's no denying that Brewer has the least range offensively of the four. He won't help the Knicks spread the floor, but in a best-case scenario, he can use his athleticism and driving ability to bring his shooting percentage back up to his career average.
This is actually a likely outcome. It may seem questionable to predict about a jump of about .080 in field-goal percentage, but it's even more curious that a healthy 27-year-old would see his explosiveness vanish into thin air.
If Brewer can get to the rack the way he used to, it would create an interesting wrinkle for Woodson. Defenses would still have to key on Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, but Brewer would be effective at exploiting the imbalanced defensive coverage.
Just to play devil's advocate, though, let's say Brewer's 2011-12 numbers are his new offensive norm. He'd still fit well into the Knicks offense, deferring to the scorers around him but burning defenses with his athleticism if they forget about him.
As a means of comparison, think of Brewer as Landry Fields 2.0; he'll do all the little things to help the team, but with more explosiveness and at a fraction of the former Knick's ridiculous new contract.
But people aren't calling for Brewer to start while Shumpert rehabs an ACL injury just because of his hustle; they want him for his lockdown perimeter defense.
That's been Brewer's bread and butter in the NBA. Even when the awkward shots weren't falling and he wasn't making an impact on offense, Brewer earned his keep as one of the best defensive swingmen in the league. But can he replicate Shumpert's stifling D at shooting guard?
Well, there are few reliable defensive metrics, but a good one to look at here would be opponent's PER. When we look at how opposing shooting guards fared against Brewer and Shumpert last season, according to 82games, Brewer is even better.
For all the pomp surrounding his defensive ability, Shumpert allowed a 16.3 PER to shooting guards. To put that in context, that's just a hair under Tyreke Evans' rating last season. Brewer, on the other hand, held his opponents to a rating of 11.8, which is a slightly worse figure than the aforementioned Fields posted last year.
It's that defensive prowess that should earn Brewer the interim starting spot, though Shumpert will surely reclaim it when healthy due to his All-Star potential. With Shumpert starting and Smith coming in off the bench to spread the floor, what is Brewer's role then?
Consider Brewer's size. Listed at 6'7", 227 pounds, he has the ability to step up and play small forward as well. This is vital, as part of the reason the Heat steamrolled the Knicks in the playoffs was that Anthony was the only one who could physically match up against LeBron James. When they tried to throw Shumpert on him, James abused him with his strength.
The Knicks are not a drastically different team now than when they bowed out of the playoffs last spring, nor are the Heat. But if Brewer could come in to slow down LeBron and get a few efficient baskets, he could prove to be the difference that takes the Knicks from playoff afterthought to bona fide contender.
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