So the trade deadline, overall, wasn't much of a huge deal. When the biggest name to be dealt is J.J. Redick, you know that it was kind of a snoozer. But the Thunder did make a few notable moves. After cutting Eric Maynor out of the rotation, the Thunder aggressively shopped him, and tried to include him as part of larger deals. Unfortunately, nothing worked out, and they ended up dealing him for a trade exception, a long-forgotten European prospect, and some salary cap space this year. With that additional room, the Thunder took on Ronnie Brewer. The Knicks were looking for cap space to sign Kenyon Martin, so all it took to get him was what will be a tail-end second round pick next year.
The loss of Maynor isn't all that disconcerting, considering that Reggie Jackson has effectively replaced him as backup point. And the loss of the second round pick isn't a huge deal, because the Thunder are already overloaded with prospects. But the addition of Ronnie Brewer could be something special. Let's take a look into his past roles and consider how he'll fit into the Thunder's rotation.
This year, Ronnie Brewer came off of a semi-serious knee injury that was operated on in the fall. He doesn't have a huge injury history, but he did tear his hamstring at the end of the 2009-2010 season. Nevertheless, the Knicks had high hopes for their new acquisition, starting him at small forward and hoping to use him to shore up their poor defense. Despite a strong start to the season where he regularly had an offensive contribution, he started to lose confidence in his shot and put up 0fers. Soon, he was a starter in name only, grabbing merely token minutes. Eventually, he was out of the rotation entirely, playing spot minutes or at the end of blowouts.
In terms of how he fit into the Knicks system, he basically just shot corner threes. He relied on the Knicks offensive players like Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Amare Stoudemire to draw pressure. Once he was open, they'd generally dish it to him and he'd let it fly. He has a really strange shot where he kicks in mid-air and releases the ball late. It looks like it's a low percentage shot, but generally, his three is reliable, and it will fit right in with Kevin Martin's strange release. Otherwise, he'd cut into the lane a lot and get open looks, but his finesse around the rim was downright terrible. He'd also very, very occasionally get to isolate on the wing.
Before he was on the Knicks, Ronnie Brewer was a part of the Bulls patented "bench mob" for two years. The "bench mob" was a really tough second unit that pulled the Bulls through a lot of games, and were particularly noted for their defense. Offensively, Brewer would hover around the mid-range a lot, mainly getting the ball when the other team pressured. He'd be pretty good at nailing open jumpers. He also did a ton of off-ball work, sneaking into the paint for easy dunks, and a little bit of two-man game as well.
In 2010 he had a short 5 game stint with the Grizzlies, but those aren't really worth noting. Back in his Jazz days, which lasted almost four seasons during the Sloan era, Ronnie Brewer was a much bigger part of the offense. He was never a terrific scorer, but he was allowed a lot more freedom in what he could do with the ball. He was there for some rotation threes at the top of the arc, but he was also allowed to work against his defender at the top of the key, and was an integral part of fast breaks. His notorious bad touch near the rim was as evident back then as it is now, but his athleticism was able to make up for it some of the time.
In terms of rebounding and passing, Ronnie Brewer is pretty middle of the road. His rebounding isn't really bad or good. He just gets the boards that come to him, since he plays out on the perimeter most of the time. When it comes to passing, he probably gets the most assists off of transition passes. Otherwise, he drives-and-kicks a lot, can throw it down to a post player, and does some perimeter rotation. The good news on that front is that he almost never turns the ball over, so there's that.
Defense is something that isn't really tangible in terms of stats, so it's a bit harder to say what he brings to the table there. But he does get a steal or so per game, and is really good about staying out of foul trouble. Despite his athleticism, Brewer is more of a cerebral defender than anything else, adjusting his type of defense to whomever he's playing against. All in all, he's a guy who might have a bit of trouble adjusting to the Thunder's pressure-heavy defense, since he's been playing a ton of man-to-man his whole career. Then again, the Thunder might be looking to provide a change of pace, so who really knows?
How will he fit in?
My best guess is that Ronnie Brewer will become the Thunder's 9th-10th man at the end of the bench. Right now, the Thunder essentially have a 8 man rotation, with Hasheem Thabeet getting minutes that will vary from game-to-game. In terms of replacement, he replaces DeAndre Liggins as the secondary defensive specialist, but think of him as a Daequan Cook in terms of minutes. In other words, he'll definitely get more regular and frequent minutes than Liggins ever did, because he's oodles more athletic and can shoot the ball a lot more consistently. The biggest overall hope for him is that he'll be able to boost the reliability of the second unit and get more rest for Westbrook and Durant, who sometimes look noticably fatigued at the end of games.
In terms of actual function on the floor, I'm hoping that Brewer will be able to diversify his offense a little more than he was able to on the Knicks. Sure, it would help to have another corner three shooter, but if you look at the span of his career and where he's been offensively successful, he's definitely more suited for a mid-range game. With Jackson handling drives and Martin handling threes, he could bring diversity to the bench offense. Furthermore, his athleticism will compliment Reggie Jackson well, hopefully forcing opposing teams to tighten up their interior defense and freeing up Martin. His pairing with Jackson could hopefully provide a bit of fast-break ability for the Thunder second unit, who are a bit hamstrung with Martin in the game.
Defensively, Brewer wouldn't be the fast defender we need to guard the quicker point guards in the league. Sadly, we'll still have to rely on the absent-minded Westbrook for that one. But he's someone who can take almost any other matchup in stride, and is possibly even someone who could hold his own against a legitimate power forward in a small lineup. The key here is that he provides a lot more lineup flexibility and brings more diverse defensive skills to the table than Liggins ever could have.
Was this the ideal trade deadline situation? Well, not really. We definitely could use a better backup center. And I wouldn't mind a quick scoring guard, either. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. And I'm extremely thankful for what we got. Given Westbrook's and Jackson's clean injury history, I'm comfortable with dishing the expensive Maynor. Ronnie Brewer is an extremely solid pickup that's basically no risk and high reward. Having Brewer on the bench might not seem like much on its own, but the flexibility he brings could be the key to re-tooling the offensive rotations and, ultimately, winning more games.
In other words, I feel like Presti struck gold again.
What do you think of the Brewer acquisition? Where do you think he'll fit in the offense? Vote in the poll, post a comment!