Timber-Wolf: Improvement From Within—Corey Brewer and Al Jefferson

Timber WolfAnalyst IIApril 25, 2010

PHOENIX - MARCH 16:  Al Jefferson #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 16, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 152-114.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves. What can you say about that team?

Well, how about they only won 15 games this last season. The most horrible defensive NBA team I've seen in a long time.

That pretty much sums up the "team" as a whole, and that just like head coach Kurt Rambis said, "we were only a team because we had the same uniform on", a Zen Master 2 type quote.

The previous season, the Minnesota Timberwolves best player, also considered an elite low post player and rebounder Al Jefferson, averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds. Due to an unfortunate injury, the 6'10'' power forward took a huge step back, averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds, due a new system and a lapse in ability, Al Jefferson looked "good", rather than "great".

Corey Brewer, a 2007 NBA draft pick was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with high intentions of him being one of their wing players of the future, but his 1st 2 seasons in the league would suggest different. He also came off a season ending injury that didn't help his cause for being a legit player in the NBA.

Only averaging 6 points in his first 2 seasons at one point had labeled Corey Brewer a bust, until this recent season in which he averaged 13 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, shooting a respectable 35% from the 3-point line and 43% from the field.

For Corey Brewer and Al Jefferson, this offseason should become a huge advancement for the two, seeing that they are some of the Wolves best players, they are probably the headliners for improvement when it comes to regression for Al Jefferson, and progression for Corey Brewer.

Not only Corey Brewer and Al Jefferson, but the whole Timberwolves team as a whole should see improvement into next season.

Al Jefferson

Stats: 17.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.3 BPG, 0.8 SPG, shooting 49% from the field in 32 MPG.

Notables: Year before: 23 PPG, 11 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.7 BPG, 0.8 SPG, shooting 49% from the field in 36 MPG.

Al Jefferson has regressed from the 2008-2009 season. Once known as a low post monster, Al Jefferson isn't the same explosive forward that the Wolves know and love. This could be mainly attributed to a lack of preparation during the offseason.

Timberwolves Al Jefferson plans a busy summer with workouts highlighted by Hakeem Olujawon. "Normally, I take a month off after the season but I'm only taking two weeks, then it's back to work," Jefferson said before the Wolves' season finale against Detroit. "This summer is going to be real big for me."

This is something I really want to do, to make myself a better player, to get in better shape and to get my body right, I've had this kind of workout schedule before. I know I can do it again. I want to be an all-star player in this league. Olajuwon been one of my favorite players since I came into the league," Jefferson said. "I'm hoping he can take my game, on offense and defense, to another level.''

Hopefully this is a huge step for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Offseason checklist

  • Getting in serious shape
  • Improving defensive principles and awareness
  • Leadership
  • Regaining "vintage" Al Jefferson form.

Al Jefferson is a low post player, but one of the strengths of the Minnesota Timberwolves are that they played at the 3rd fastest pace in the NBA. Al Jefferson often times struggled to get back on defense after running a fast break, or had a complete lapse on the defensive end due to his lack of serious conditioning.

Al Jefferson has gone through a lot during this season. He was convicted of a DUI, suffered the death of his grandmother and another sick relative kept him out of commission for 6 games. More than likely, this season, while he was healthy Al Jefferson developed some leadership qualities, stating his mistakes and faults through various interviews, and his progression on defense (whenever he did play defense).

Al Jefferson went from a player that could dunk on Yao Ming consecutively, despite being 7 inches shorter, to a player that finesses his way to the rim and lacked the same explosiveness that had post defenders aware of a poster. I fully suspect Al Jefferson to attempt to regain his 20 point and 10 rebound status, which I felt was a huge reason as to why the Wolves regressed from 24 wins to 15 wins.

Expected stats: 20 PPG, 10 RPG, 2 APG, 2 BPG

Corey Brewer

Stats: 13 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Notables: Increased stats despite a Torn ACL.

He cannot shoot, he cannot dribble, he's too skinny, he's a role player, he's a bust, he will never be a NBA starter, he's overrated defensively.

These were the many things that were said about Corey Brewer, and while there were many more to say, Corey Brewer has erased so much criticism about him that it's ridiculous. He's gone from a player that couldn't shoot, to a player that hit a 3-pointer in 33 consecutive games. He's gone from a role player, to a possible starter.

Corey Brewer was a personal fan favorite for all Timberwolves fans. Whether it was posterizing dunks, or cashing in sweet 3's from the perimeter, Corey Brewer was the Wolves most entertaining player to watch. He's not the most fundamental, or smartest player, but there's rarely a time where he's outworked.

Despite those positives, Corey Brewer did regress some. His athleticism is nowhere near the same as it was before, although it did show flashes of some of his fastbreak dunks during the 2nd half of the season. Before, Corey Brewer would dunk with force. Now, such is not always the case. 

His speed isn't the same as it used to be, but you can say that Corey is more funamentally sound. Corey Brewer does happen to have an above average court vision for a small forward type of player. He's also stated that he will be putting on some weight, doing nothing but lifting and eating, meaning more than likely he will anchor some time at the small forward position, his most natural position due to the fact that he can utilize his quickness.

He started as a small forward during his rookie season, in which in one game had grabbed 18 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks. Playing 600 less minutes as a rookie, he grabbed 10 more offensive rebounds than he did as a starter with more minutes. I think this can conclude that Corey Brewer playing at his natural position will allow him to rebound the ball more, thus giving the Wolves more possessions.

Corey Brewer was a huge step forward, and should do the same next season.

Offseason checklist:

  • Eat, lift and gain a lot of weight.
  • Figure out how to anchor a defense, study on best offensive players in the league.
  • Improving ball handling, shot creating
  • Regaining elite athleticism

Corey Brewer has shown leadership qualities in his play and words. When asked if there was any defensive effort that stood out during the year, he said "We're a horrible defensive team". He always gives efforts, he's not afraid of taking half court buzzer beaters, or taking the last shot, he's truly a clutch competitor, showing Lakers Trevor Ariza-esque steals and defensive capabilities.

Expected stats: 14 PPG, 5 RPG, 3 APG, 2 SPG

Thanks for reading!


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