Nuggets Helped Brewer Find Niche In NBA
Nuggets Helped Brewer Find Niche In NBA
Corey Brewer began his career in Minnesota, but he grew and flourished in Denver. Tonight, he makes his first trip back to face the Nuggets since joining the Wolves this offseason. (Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
You could say that playing for the Denver Nuggets helped bring Corey Brewer’s basketball career back to life.
Brewer began his career in Minnesota but was dealt to the Knicks as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011. He was waived by New York before playing a game, then latched on with the Mavericks two days later.
He played in just 13 games for the Mavs, averaging 11.4 minutes per game. But it was a right place, right time situation. The Mavericks won the 2011 title that June.
Before the next season began—right out of the lockout—Brewer was traded again, this time to Denver. By 25, the former seventh overall pick was traded twice and had went from starting 82 games in 2010 to being used sparingly off the bench.
Then came Denver.
“When I got traded to Denver, it was a good situation for me because I was able to play,” Brewer said. “George (Karl) loved me. When you have a coach who’s behind you, just let’s you go out there and do you, you learn what you can and can’t do and it started working out for me.”
The trade turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In the next two seasons, Brewer helped the Nuggets to two playoff appearances. During the 2011-12 seasons, Brewer averaged 8.9 points, the most since he was a member of the Wolves in 2009-10, to go along with 1.2 steals per game in 21.8 minutes of play.
He was even better the next season. He helped the Nuggets to a 38-3 home record while averaging 12.1 points and perhaps more importantly (for Wolves fans at least), he was able to stay healthy, playing in all 82 games.
Denver helped Brewer find his niche in the league. He got out in transition, played energetic perimeter defense and hit the occasional corner 3. Those facets off the bench helped Denver to the third seed in the West last year, and it emphasized the types of strengths Brewer could bring to an NBA team.
And it helped Brewer build confidence in his game.
“You’re not playing you start thinking in your head, man, what’s wrong with my game?” Brewer said. “What can I do to get better?”
Tonight, he returns to Denver for the first time since leaving this offseason to return to Minnesota. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN and 830 WCCO-AM.
Brewer wasn’t the only piece of last year’s Nuggets team not back this season. Karl is gone, there was major turnover in the front office and wing Andre Iguodala is now in Golden State.
“It’s pretty crazy, you know,” Brewer said. “They had the GM of the Year, Coach of the Year. We won 57 games, lost three games at home,” Brewer said. “We won like 18 in a row. We had a good thing going, but I guess they wanted to change it up. It worked out for the best for me, I guess you could say. I’m happy to be here. It’s a good situation.”
For Brewer, though, that came as a blessing in disguise. His first run in Minnesota was a bit of a roller coaster. He had the pressures of being the No. 7 overall pick and although Brewer was a fine player, he never lived up to those expectations.
This time around, Brewer is a guy on the team with rare playoff experience and now he just wants to get back there. So far, Brewer has done all that’s been asked of him and then some. He’s played great defense, limiting Kevin Durant during Minnesota’s second win of the season. He has scored, putting up 27 points in Wednesday’s win over Cleveland. He has even been a YouTube highlight reel thanks to the “Love Connection” with Kevin Love.
Brewer doesn’t have any ill feelings towards the Nuggets. He said the team treated him well and that he had a blast there, but things just happened to fall they way they did.
He admits that while he did have fun in Denver, he isn’t focused on going back there. He is focused on winning.
“I really don’t care about going back there to be honest,” Brewer said. “I love Denver, Denver fans are great. The whole organization was good for me. They were a great team, but right now, we are trying to get to the playoffs.”