I’m heading over to the Barclays Center tonight for a feature piece on the Nets that will appear in Capital New York. I’m pretty excited to see what the new arena looks like, to survey the new food, and to see Mirza Teletovic’s shot selection up close. (Think J.R. Smith, but taller.)
Upon my return, I’ll be watching the preseason game between the Knicks and Raptors in Montreal.
The bigger deal is the preseason debut of Amar’e Stoudemire, who seems to be getting lost in the discussion. I’m pretty bullish on how helpful he can be to the Knicks, assuming he can stay healthy. More on that next week.
But Ronnie Brewer is also making his debut Friday night, it appears, and I think we ought to talk about what to expect from him.
Brewer is 27, but his career has had an odd arc to it. He’s played six seasons in the NBA. In his first three, his Player Efficiency Rating was 16.9, with 15 league average. Over his next three seasons, his PER was 12.9. And nearly all of that can be atrributed to his shooting accuracy, which was better than 53 percent over the first three years, 46 percent over his next three. Nearly everything else stayed constant, except his assist percentage, which actually went up.
So there are a couple of takeaways from this. One is, there’s little reason to assume that a three-year trend in Brewer’s performance will somehow disappear. In fact, last season’s field goal percentage was the worst of his career by far, dipping below 43 percent.
But the other point is that if the Knicks can find a way to get him shooting a bit better, he’ll be a league average performer offensively, to go along with his unquestioned excellent defense.
To put that kind of performance in perspective, consider the help Iman Shumpert was to last year’s team. But remember: Shumpert shot a lowly 40.1 percent from the field, and his PER was just 10.8. So Brewer, even last season, was Shumpert-plus.
Brewer also outperformed Landry Fields offensively last year, and was obviously better than Fields on the defensive end.
So there’s little calculation that can conclude Ronnie Brewer is anything other than an upgrade for the Knicks at shooting guard, even if he doesn’t improve his shot at all. You’d have to think the hiring of a shooting coach was done, at least in part, with Brewer in mind.
It is also important not to draw immediate conclusions from Brewer, who will be playing in his first game following knee surgery. But it is easy to understand why the Knicks acquired Brewer, and he can be a very important piece for this season’s Knicks.