Player to Watch: Ronnie Brewer
The problem with hard-nosed, legendary coaches is that they drive such a hard line, demand so much, that you often feel like it will never be enough for them. Players will work hard, impress fans, show themselves to be "one of his kind of guys" when it comes to the coach's demanded work ethic and selflessness, and yet, they'll never reach it. The coaches keep them just on the outside, hoping to continuously drive them to further and further heights, 'til they're the absolute best they could possibly be.
One such coach is Jerry Sloan.
One such player is Ronnie Brewer.
Brewer enters his fourth year in the league, after a season where his per game numbers increased, but his per 36 numbers fell with increased playing time. He even dropped in steals, though he was still good enough for sixth in the league. And while arguably Brewer's best contribution has been defense, Sloan still hasn't embraced the kid as a favorite yet. In fact this preseason, Sloan lauded Wes Matthews. So Brewer will continue to work, never stepping out of line, never making great strides but consistently putting forth effort to be the best player he can be.
Brewer can hustle, that's for sure. Since being drafted out of the University of Arkansas, Brewer has shown himself to be one of the best contributers from his draft class, clocking in above league-average PERs over the last two seasons. He shoots a high percentage, but has struggled from the arc, which is where he put his emphasis this summer.
With how talented the Jazz are, Brewer is easy to lose in the mix. But he's fiercely loyal towards Jerry Sloan, busts his backside on every play, and really has the potential to be a very special "No-Stats-All-Star" if he can find his veteran groove. Maybe in this rocky year for a transitioning Jazz he can find that groove. He also needs to work on finding his shot in the flow of the offense. Some 41% of his shots came in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock last year. Great for transition plays, but his percentage plummets almost 20 percent when you get outside that parameter. These are all things that can be fixed, but it's going to take a dedication and patience that's hard to teach, which must be learned, for Brewer to really embrace it.
You'll probably notice a handful of plays from Brewer this year. But keep an eye off the ball sometimes and look for the potential in him. He could be on the verge, in a contract year, of becoming something more than just above-average.