I promise to have these recaps done before the 2008-2009 season starts. Up next, #9.
The biggest benefactor of Derek Fisher leaving for LALA land was Ronnie Brewer. He showed a lot of promise his rookie year in the limited minutes that he played. But with #2 playing out of position at the 2, some development time was lost.
So when the 2007-08 season began, the starting shooting guard spot was Brewer's to lose. The other two competitors were newly-drafted Morris Almond, Sloan whipping boy Giricek, and two-year vet (that doesn't sound like the right word) CJ Miles. The Jazz weren't so sure that that any of them were what they wanted as they went out to try and get Morris Peterson as a free agent. But "losing" MoPete to the Hornets ended up being one of the better non-moves in recent Jazz history. Brewer's numbers ended up being better than Pete's in almost every category.
Brewer had the chance to lock up the spot with a good showing at the Rocky Mountain Revue. Unfortunately, he ended up tweaking his groin and only played in two games. He would have to earn it in training camp.
Ronnie ended up being the pre-season MVP, if there were such a thing. He led the team with 17.1 a game and shot a blistering 60% from the field. He also led the team in steals with 2.4 a game. That, coupled with CJ's suckiness, Almond's rookiness, and Giricek's doghousedness (he didn't shoot well either), Brewer earned the job pretty quick.
In his sophmore season he showed what he could do if given the playing time (you could see that line in CJ's recap next year). He scored 12 per and led the team in FG% and steals per game.
He gave the Jazz one of the most athletic two-guards they've ever had. He can climb the ladder to go get almost any alley-oop that were thrown his way. He was #6 in the league in dunks and that was a huge factor in his high FG%. He became Baseline Brewer to me because it seemed like he often would lose his man and get hit by Williams or AK for an easy lay-up or dunk. His FG% is often dismissed because of this, but if you're able to get that open, there's no need to work on that jumper, right?
That became his biggest knock for the season. He never developed a consistent outside shot. We saw the most glaring example of this in the playoffs when Kobe would spoon (little spoon) Boozer when Brewer had the ball on the wing. But Ronnie had so little confidence in his jumper, that he would end up swinging the ball back to Williams because he couldn't get the ball into Booze. And that's when you can tell you don't have a shooter. Not because he doesn't shoot the ball well, but because he doesn't let it fly. A shooter who's confident in his shot will chuck them up even if they're 0 for their last 50. They still think that next shot is going in. Ronnie didn't have that. If he starts knocking down more of those, look out.
And perhaps his biggest contribution on the floor was his defensive play. He's not a lockdown defensive player yet, and he would put himself out of position going for steals, but he will be a fine defensive player. Remember, he's only had one full real season of playing. He'll learn from those mistakes and be even better next year on D. And that should scare most players not named Kobe. We didn't get lit up for the most part by shooting guards last season like we did when Fisher was playing out of position.
As Brewer improves and as Williams transitions to an All-World guard, this could be one of the best backcourts in the NBA and the best the Jazz have ever had. That's right, ever.