Corey Brewer already exceeding expectations in his Wolves reunion
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It has become a common sight for the Minnesota Timberwolves in just nine games: Brewer streaking downcourt, Love heaving a crisp pass his way and Brewer finishing it off with an easy layup barely before their opponent can react.
Love has found Brewer 16 times this season, two of which led to 3-pointers instead of a quick lay-in, with a just few missed chances scattered in-between.
It is only one weapon in the Wolves' cache of offensive weapons, but the Love-to-Brewer outlet pass has been dangerously effective, and it is in large part thanks to the high-energy, spindly small forward.
"Corey is the one who kind of makes it go," coach Rick Adelman said. "Kevin has always been able to make that pass, but Corey, he just streaks. Once they start going, you give credit to those two guys, Corey is pretty amazing. He never seems to get tired. He just keeps playing."
When the Wolves brought Brewer back to Minnesota in the offseason after a three-year absence, they had a pretty good idea of what they were getting. This wasn't the same Brewer that struggled to find his niche in the four seasons after the Wolves took him at No. 7 in the 2007 NBA draft.
In stops at Dallas and most recently Denver, Brewer matured and excelled once he found a specific identity - a relentless defender who could provide a consistent source of energy off the bench.
But Brewer has been more than just an unyielding sixth man for the Wolves. Added to the starting lineup, partly due to Chase Budinger's injury status, Brewer has been a binding piece in Minnesota's starting-five. Apart from his defensive presence, he has provided another offensive outlet, averaging 14.9 points in nine games.
"He had that ability in Denver," Adelman said. He shot the ball pretty good there. He ran the floor really good. But he's been better than I think we anticipated."
Minnesota ranks second in the NBA, behind only Phoenix, in fastbreak points. (19.7 ppg). Brewer has been a major part of that, always a threat to catch a defender off guard. He has also been more of a threat from outside than expected. The Cavaliers found that out Wednesday when Brewer went 5-of-5 from 3-point range in a 27-point outburst.
As Adelman pointed out, Brewer's whirlwind on-court pace is almost constant. It's a presence Love and Co. have fed off of.
"That's Corey," Love said. "He's always had a ton of energy. He always brings it. He's always going to play hard defensively ... He's been giving us a lot in transition, hitting that corner three for us, cutting to the hoop. When he cuts, most people find him."
Adelman waited all the way until opening night on Oct. 30 to name who his starting small forward would be. Even then, he warned the spot would likely remain in flux for the season's first few weeks. However, Brewer has quickly squashed any debate.
The Wolves, riding a hot start to the year (6-3), are in Denver Friday night for a match-up with Brewer's former squad. The reunion isn't on his mind though. While he credits his time with the Nuggets for a big step in his development, he knows he found a strong fit back in Minnesota.
"I'm feeling good right now, especially on this team," Brewer said. "When you're learning guys and you have a guy like Kevin Love who runs, who passes the ball, everybody's happy for each other, it's a good situation, you know? No arguments."