I want to start this by saying that I rooted heavily for the Wovles to draft Corey Brewer. From the beginning of the SEC tournatment last year, I thought Corey Brewer could be a Josh Howard-type player with potential to be even more (honestly, during the NCAA I was thinking his game resembled Scottie Pippen). I was at a Buffalo Wild Wings with my buddy Benny Gunz watching the draft. When Yi was taken with the 6th pick, I was pumped because I knew we would take Brewer. (That’s actually a lie. Part of me was terrified that we were going to take Spencer Hawes). Sure enough, we did. The Buffalo Wild Wings went crazy with applause.
What is my opinion on Brewer now? Honestly, it’s still the same. I still think he can be a good player in this league with time. This is why, without making it an insult to Brewer, I think the organization should send him to the NBA Development League.
First thing’s first. I did not realize how thin Brewer was. When I first saw him in the preseason, I thought he looked thinner than the kids in the "Well this is Christmas" Christian Children’s Fund commercials. Did he look that thin in the NCAA tournament? Probably not because he was up against 18-22 year olds. Second, when you draft a player in the first round on talent and, in Brewer’s case, speed and defensive ability while knowing the offensive skill set is a work in progress, that’s what you get. Brewer has height and the speed to guard a lot of people in this league, but his offensive skill set is still raw. At Florida, he got a ton of open looks and on-on-one situations because of how dangerous every player was on that team from 1-8. Obviously, that’s not the case with the Wolves. However, the three glaring holes in his offensive game are ball handling (which inhibits his ability to get to the hole), consistent jump shooting and confidence. His passing skills are actually more mature than I thought, but given the style of play at Florida, I’m not surprised.
The team can’t expect him to develop playing him 20 minutes one night, 0 the next, then 9 after that. Conversely, with his game the way it is right now, Brewer can’t reasonably expect a spot in an 8 or 9 man rotation, especially on a team congested with shooting guard/small forward tweeners. However, he plays superior defense in almost all respects to his counterparts on this team (save Gomes if matched up on a more physical player) and the skills he needs to work on can be developed (hopefully?).
So why not send him to the Development League? Isn’t that what it was made for? The kid needs minutes and he needs them in games. I’ve never seen a NBA DL game and I don’t know what the rosters are like, but I’m assuming the players are either (a) NBA-level talents that are either too raw or lack the drive to elevate their games, or (b) hard-working players trying their asses off to make their dream of playing in the NBA come true. Either way, Brewer doesn’t need the Bruce Bowens or Ron Artests of the world guarding him in order to work on ball handling, jump shooting, and, most importantly, confidence, but he does need work on those skills.
I also think it would set excellent precedent for the league. Has anyone ever sent a lottery pick down to the NBA DL? Is Gerald Green (18th pick) the highest to ever get sent there? I think too many GMs would be afraid that sending a lottery player down would be similar to admitting that the player is a bust. But why is this the case? When you only play 8-9 players a game, how can you expect a young, raw talent like Brewer to get any better. Like I said earlier, Brewer needs minutes, but a coach needs to put in lineups that can win a game. As much as I don’t like the current coach, he’s not making mistake by benching Brewer, and Brewer cannot complain about his minutes with the level of contribution he makes right now. Additionally, if a player is going to be a bust, won’t you know for sure if he can’t hack it in the NBA DL?
In short, I think it’s time to use the NBA DL for what it is – player development.