Ronnie Brewer may have been my favorite draft pick ever. Not speficially because of his play (Ronnie was a solid rotation player for the Jazz who fit very nicely into their system), but because of the hilarious exchange between Dan Patrick and David Stern that preceded his selection. In all the years of televised drafts, it’s hard to recall a more amusing snarkfest between a commissioner and television host.
Now back to Ronnie Brewer.
By his second season Brewer was Utah’s starting 2-guard and developed into a very solid albeit limited role-player. He had world-class athleticism, was a great teammate, a solid defender, a good passer, a great cutter, and fantastic open-court player – but he just couldn’t shoot. He could make the 16-footer but didn’t take them often or make them consistently. Utah was able to mask that weakness by possessing one of the premier shooting bigs in the league in Mehmet Okur. In Utah’s vaunted high screen-roll – Okur filled the “Jeff Hornacek” role as the 3pt-shooter who rolled up on the weakside and Brewer became the dive-man who cut to the rim. It worked beautifully in 2007-08 with Brewer shooting a gaudy 55.8% from the field and averaging 12.0 points per game as part of the league’s #1-offense. Those numbers also translated into the 2008 posteason in which Brewer averaged 10.2 points on 52.0% shooting.
Although Brewer would shoot over 50% in his first three seasons with the Jazz, his lack of shooting-range was magnified when Okur’s body began to break down. Okur missed most of Utah’s 2009 first-round playoff series against the Lakers with a hamstring injury and Brewer’s limitations were accentuated by Kobe Bryant’s unwillingness to defend Brewer outside of 10-feet in half-court sets. Bryant sagged off Brewer and with another streaky perimeter shooter at SF in Andrei Kirilenko and a total non-shooter at center in Jarron Collins – defenses were able to focus all of their attention to collapsing on all-stars Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer in the paint which fouled up many of Utah’s sets.
As shown below, Brewer’s primary scoring production came as a paint-finisher where from 2006-10 he converted a stellar 64.4% of his field goal attempts within 10-feet of the basket. He also shot an extraordinary percentage of his shots from point-blank range. (By comparison, in his Jazz tenure only 49.0% of Al Jefferson’s shot attempts have come from within 10-feet of the basket).
|Ronnie Brewer Shot Breakdown|
|Overall||FG% 10-ft||% of FG Att||FG% Outside|
|Season||FG%||or closer||Inside 10-ft||10-ft|
It also shows that playing with the Deron-Kirilenko-Boozer-Okur unit clicking on all cylinders in 2007-08 was when Brewer was his most effective. In 2008-09 Deron, Boozer, and Okur missed a combined 69 games and Brewer’s point-blank looks declined. That continued into 2009-10 where Okur’s minutes dipped from the 33-34 range to 29 as his durability and effectiveness began to slip. With Brewer set for free agency in 2010 and a roster featuring five capable wings (Brewer, Kirilenko, C.J. Miles, Kyle Korver and rookie Wes Matthews) who all deserved minutes – management shipped Brewer at the trade deadline to Memphis for a protected 1st-round pick that was used in their acquisition of Al Jefferson (the Grizzlies’ pick ended up being F Donatas Motiejunas whose rights were traded from Minnesota to Houston).
Ronnie Brewer has played on 4 teams since being traded and has yet to find a role or system that fit his abilities as well as Jerry Sloan’s system. He was a solid draft pick, a quality Jazz player and a great teammate – and he gave NBA fans the greatest gift of all: an all-out snarkfest between David Stern and Dan Patrick.
I’d be satisfied with a similar haul from this year’s 14th-overall pick – particularly with this being David Stern’s final draft as commissioner.
Come on Bill Simmons, pick a fight with Stern! You know you want to!