Anthony called Brewer the “the biggest under-the-radar pickup” on media day, and through three games (all wins), the Knicks’ new acquisition has already made an impact. He helped hold LeBron James to a cool 23 points and five turnovers, and made Evan Turner basically a non-factor in back-to-back games with 22 total points.
It’s rare to see opponents get by the 6-7, 235-pound Brewer, who has quick footwork.
“When I have a guy that can roam and guy that can shut down his guy,” center Tyson Chandler said recently, “I know most likely he’s not going to be beat as much, and I can concentrate my focus around the rest of the floor. He’s big and strong, and can keep guys out of the paint.”
Offensively, Brewer has a knack for finding open seams in the defense. “Once I see guys turn their heads or try to help,” he said, “that’s an opportunity where I can cut back-door and get space where I can get easy points.”
Brewer is noted for his efficiency — he only has one turnover in 78 minutes — and he is starting to shoot the ball well from downtown (5-for-9), which he hasn’t done at all in his six-year career.
Role players are probably more important in basketball than any other sport, and the Knicks really haven’t had enough guys like Brewer over the years. It’s just nice to have a few guys that don’t need the ball all that much in order to be effective. For his part, Brewer has been the perfect bridge while the Knicks wait for the return of Iman Shumpert, as his defense is excellent and he’s shown a nice ability to finish at the basket.
Naturally, we don’t expect him to continue to shoot 55% from three-point range — although if he did, wouldn’t that really be something? — but if he’s effective enough on offense that will be more than enough to keep him in the rotation throughout the season. Assuming he returns fully healthy, Shumpert obviously has a ton more upside, but what a luxury it will be to have a guy like Brewer off the bench, as the Knicks will be able to bring in J.R. Smith or Brewer at shooting guard depending on whether they’re more in need of defense or offense and they’ll have an awful lot of flexibility with their lineup.
I’m sure at some point this season we’ll have to distribute more criticism than praise about this team, but for now we can enjoy focusing on all that’s going right, and the play of Brewer has undoubtedly been one of those things.