It seems only right that Martell Webster (231, 4.06) and Wesley Johnson (245, 3.91) are paired so closely together on #NBARank. They are, after all, the two Wolves left standing from David Kahn’s Summer 2010 swingman shopping spree. One irony of this fact is that of the three fellas vying last season to be the Wolves’ regular two–all of whom were young, curiously incomplete (as players) and most likely playing out of position–only Corey Brewer, with his dilated, edge-of-panic defense, had that single upper-echelon skill that separated him from the pack. But Wes Johnson and Martell Webster can shoot and Corey Brewer cannot, not even a little. And for this reason, Corey gets to wear a terribly beautiful, diamond-encrusted, bullet-proof SUV on his ring finger while Wes and Martell will still be logging off-guard minutes for the Wolves next year. Yeah, that part is a little confusing.
Archives For Corey Brewer
Now that the Corey Brewer trade demands, or Melo Drama as I like to call it, are over, the Wolves were finally able to get back to some sense of normalcy.
With Corey actually gone from the team, it gave us an opportunity to see Wes Johnson in a more defined role. It’s not like Wes hasn’t had a chance to show what he can do before, but now it’s him and only him as a main option on the perimeter. Personally, I don’t think he disappointed in any way.
Wes didn’t shoot the ball well and he didn’t wow anybody by taking over the game. That’s not his type of game anyway. What he did was make the little plays here and there that you really want a role player to do. His final line shows a 14-point effort on 5/14 shooting with eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. But it’s the way that he accomplished such a modest line that impressed.
It’s not every day that an opportunity arises to write about the Timberwolves on the main Truehoop page. But today, by virtue of the Wolves’ glancing involvement with Carmelo Anthony, is one of those days. As such, our boy Zach got his pretty face in the lights. Suffice it to say, he was underwhelmed with the Brewer-for-Randolph deal:
ESPN is reporting that the Knicks have finally landed Mr. Carmelo Anthony. In exchange, the Knicks have traded almost all of their young players plus Governor’s Island and three scuzzy, bro-infested East Village bars. For us, though, here’s the important part:
New York will send Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota as part of the deal in exchange for Corey Brewer, a league source told Broussard.
I hope that, just once, the Wolves deign to put Darko and Curry on the floor together. That would be pure magic.
By the way, Corey Brewer is/was my favorite T-Wolf. This hurts a little.
Jerry Zgoda at the STrib reports that David Kahn has called the Wolves involvement in the Carmelo Anthony deal “overstated”:
Translated, that means an ESPN report last weekend that the Wolves would send a first-round pick and Corey Brewer to Denver to receive Knicks little-used forward Anthony Randolph and accept Eddy Curry’s huge, expiring contract is too much to give.
Kahn also added the the Wolves have not been actively looking to trade Brewer, although he did make this strange little addendum:
Because Corey is in the last year of his deal and because many people like Corey’s ability and upside, we receive a lot of calls on him…Players are not like cars in a garage. You can’t keep accumulating cars, you can only have so many of them. There’s a balance act there and at the wing position; we’re probably too heavy there.
Which is basically saying that the Wolves are looking to trade him.
- At Hoopsworld, Anthony Macri has some good analysis of Kevin Love’s rebounding technique. Interesting stuff, if you’re into rebounding technique (and I know you are):
Success for Kevin Love is more dependent on his shoulder strength than his vertical jump. He uses the blade of his forearm (called his “arm bar”) to ward off other rebounders, and defensively he is able to hold players in place without using his hands (using an arm bar looks lot less like a foul than pushing or holding someone with palms). Like a martial artist who is averting strikes from his opponent, Love is happy to be engaged in a physical confrontation high while staying low and centered. A well-placed hip or knee leaning on the player he is engaged with prevents that player from playing above the rim, and the strength Love possesses in the upper body allows him to fight for balls he might not reach otherwise.
- Finally, look at this duck by Isaiah Rider. You can almost see that poor dude’s soul leaving his body.
As you may have heard, Carmelo Anthony wants to play for the New York Knicks. You may have also heard that, for various reason, consummating this seemingly modest desire has been extraordinarily difficult. Well, it seems our very own Timberwolves may have been pulled into this convoluted narrative. It goes a little something like this (from ESPN’s Marc Stein):
In the proposed trade, New York would send Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota and the Timberwolves would send Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to Denver. Denver would also receive Wilson Chandler from New York.
A Timberwolves source told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher on Sunday that the team would not approve of a deal where the team received just New York’s Randolph and Curry with Brewer and a first-rounder heading to Denver. While these are the names currently being discussed, additional players could be added to make a deal possible, sources said.
The Denver Nuggets have been an impressive collection of talent for quite some time. Carmelo Anthony remains one of the league’s premier scorers, Nene’s reliability is criminally underrated and J.R. Smith-the very personification of this volatile unit-is dynamite in sneakers; wildly unstable, yet effectively explosive. Unfortunately, the same carefree demeanor that’s allowed them to fill up stats sheets and highlight reels has continued to define them in moments that demanded far more poise. Plainly put, they’ve never been considered a contender because they’ve never been able to get out of their own way. So it was particularly amusing to see them move at such a deliberately slow pace as they set about picking the Wolves apart.
Despite the visitors obvious intentions, our boys proceeded with business as usual to predictably varying results. Postgame, Kurt Rambis was asked to comment on his unit’s 8 scant turnovers, yet neither coach nor scribe acknowledged that such supposed ball control was actually due to unconscionably poor shooting: the Wolves attempted 95 field goals and made just 39% of them. This however, didn’t keep us from witnessing an entertaining affair in which both teams tried to wrestle victory out of their own hands. The Wolves gave the game away early, the Nuggets tried to give it back, but we-being such gracious hosts-refused to take it.
It’s hard to fault Corey Brewer for Kevin Durant’s utterly gonzo 47-point, 18-rebound spectacularium on Wednesday. Brewer ardently chased Durant all over the floor, worming his way around countless screens, recovering quickly to challenge every last shot. But Durant is a phenomenon. He plays a classic shooter’s game, running the baseline, curling off of screens, dropping subtle jab steps and hesitations, raising the ball above his head and calmly flicking his wrist with such miraculous economy that the movement itself is almost impossible to perceive. This would be an apt description of vintage Rip Hamilton except that Rip Hamilton is not 6’9″ with tentacles for arms (and he never was much of a three-point shooter). Brewer was the Wolves best defensive option against KD, and he never had a chance.
Corey’s admirable defensive effort was largely typical of the Wolves’ in this game, as was his solid shooting and tenacity on the boards. Unfortunately, Brewer’s game was typical in other ways too. Along with all of the great and surprising things the Wolves did came some devastating mistakes, some glaring and some subtle.
Of the many by turns illuminating and inscrutable tidbits I dug up in the past few weeks while doing research for the Truehoop post, this was among the most glaring: the Wolves’ situation on the wing is a true riddle, a strange machine, filled with moving parts and missing pieces.
Let’s start with what we’ve recently learned. Michael Beasley is the team’s most gifted scorer, but hurts the team defensively (though we’ve seen improvement in the past week), especially when partnered with his young mates in the starting lineup, Darko Milicic and Kevin Love. Wesley Johnson and Corey Brewer both have severely limited offensive games, but come with a desperately needed energy and athleticism that complements Love’s and Darko’s special talents. And although it’s too soon to know for certain how Martell Webster affects the team–and he seems to be still very much inhibited by his stiff back, particularly on defense–it’s clear that Webster brings a reliable shooting touch and what passes on this team for veteran savvy (i.e. he’s, like, played in a playoff game before). How do we figure this out?
Well, we pushed and they pushed back.
The Wolves ended the first half on a 14-5 run against the Hawks only to relinquish the ground they gained in a 11-21 run to open the 3rd quarter. Then in a fervent scramble to prevent another blowout, our pups scored nine unanswered, cutting Atlanta’s lead to just 7 points with enough time to pull out a win, only to be buried for good after a Jamal Crawford four point play.Final score: Hawks 113-Wolves 103.
But hey, it’s progress.
It’s doubtful anyone besides our friends from the ATL came into Target Center anticipating a W, however the home faithful must have been pleased they didn’t bear witness to another shellacking. Kurt Rambis was content with his team’s effort and is looking to build on last night’s showing. “Our team is getting frustrated by losing, obviously. But I really liked the way we practiced on Thursday and we did a good job of carrying it over to the game. We had an awful lot of bright moments tonight both offensively and on defense.”
Indeed they did. On a night where both Kevin Love and Michael Beasley struggled, shooting a combined 12-36 from the field, one of the Wolves true strengths began to show itself: depth.
Corey Brewer has shown several concerning signs of regression early into this season; a lack of confidence in his shot, uncertainty in attacking the basket and uncharacteristic defensive miscues. But on Friday night he was possibly the team’s star performer with an impressive corralling of Iso Joe Johnson alongside 18 much needed points and five timely steals. He was aggressive, decisive, and most importantly, judicious in his shot selection. Brewer still provides his own special brand of unintentional comedy, specifically on his loose limbed forays into the paint, but it was refreshing nonetheless to see him find a comfort zone. Even if only for an evening.
Minnesota’s newfound swingmen coupled with Corey’s recent lapses resulted in a refusal to offer an extension on this year’s contract, so it will be interesting to see if he can find a way to redeem himself without pressing the issue. More performances like Friday’s would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Of course the other star of the evening for the home team was Corey’s new competition, Wesley Johnson, who coincidentally is strong in practically every area his colleague is not. Wes exhibits range, comfort and consistency in his jump shot, nimbleness in attacking the basket and awareness in distributing the ball all while providing the same quick feet and long armed defensive presence. Wes was 4-6 from three point range on the evening, matching Brewer’s 18 points and took a few efficient turns spelling his partner’s defense of Iso Joe.
If there’s any glaring weakness in Johnson’s game, it’s his ball handling. His footwork and athleticism make him quite the threat to YouTube practically anyone, but an apparent inability to put the ball on the floor is a real hindrance to what could be an awesome offensive arsenal. If defenders had to respect his first step, it would not only open his game, it could make him the dependable scorer Wolves are clearly lacking. (Dependent on how you feel about one Michael Beasley.)
Regardless, the two make an impressive tandem. Given the absence of both Jonny Flynn and Martell Webster, they will have time to establish themselves and even upon their compatriots return, could make significant contributions to the second team.
As Rambis noted postgame, “We still don’t know what our team is or who we are until we’re healthy. Even then there will be more experimenting.”