The Return of Randy Breuer

Even though he was a two-time All-Big Ten selection, some basketball observers thought the Milwaukee Bucks had taken a risk by drafting Randy Breuer in the first round of the 1983 NBA Draft.

"At the time," Breuer said, "I was labeled a project, a gamble."

Now, midway through his seventh NBA season, Breuer has found himself playing on a team of "projects" — the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In the first week of January, the Timberwolves traded Brad Lohaus to Milwaukee in exchange for Breuer. The trade represented a two-fold opportunity for Breuer.

"It was a chance to come home," said Breuer, a native of Lake City, Minn., "and it was a chance to get more playing time."

In Milwaukee, Breuer played for one of the NBA's most consistent and successful franchises. In six seasons in Milwaukee, the Bucks averaged 51 victories a season, won three Central Division championships and made it to the playoffs all six seasons (the Bucks, Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers are the only teams who have been to the NBA playoffs in each of the past 10 seasons).

"Sure, I was leaving a franchise that was very successful," Breuer said, "but I was not playing a lot."

In his first two seasons after being drafted out of the University of Minnesota, Breuer was a reserve — starting only eight games in two years. But in his third season (1985-86), Breuer started 63 regular-season games and all 14 of the Bucks' playoff games. He averaged 8.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. During the 1986-87 season, Breuer started 10 games while averaging 7.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Two years ago, it appeared the project was complete, as Breuer started 73 games and established career highs in nine categories. He averaged 28 minutes, 12 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. But late in the season, Breuer suffered several cracked ribs during a game. After missing two games, he returned to the lineup but was hampered by the injury. He averaged just 12 minutes a game in four playoff appearances.

In 34 games with the Bucks this season before the trade, Breuer was averaging 6.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8 minutes per game.

Six years ago, after a standout career with the Gophers (he ranks second on the school's all-time scoring list and seventh on the rebounding list), Breuer didn't set any long-term goals as he embarked on his NBA career.

"I just wanted to take it one year at a time," he said, "and to keep improving as a player. I was disappointed in my last two years in Milwaukee in my playing time. I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to be used to the best of my capabilities and show what I can do as a player."

Breuer appeared in his first game in a Timberwolves uniform on Jan. 6 at San Antonio, scoring one point in five minutes. "It's been a total learning experience for me," he said. "It's been a tough adjustment, but the players here have a great attitude and they've been working very hard."

The acquisition of the 7-3 Breuer will benefit the team, according to forward Scott Roth. "The addition of Randy does two things for us," Roth said. "It gives us a big, inside player with scoring ability, and it gives us the luxury of going with a small lineup if we have to. Having a big man like Randy inside will help us play better."

"If you're going to get traded," Breuer said, "it's always easier in the offseason. There are a lot of changes, but you have more time to adjust. With this trade, you just kind of feel as you go along."