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The Regression of The Houston Rockets Bench Master Corey Brewer

Dec 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Corey Brewer (33) blows on his hands during warmup before playing against the Los Angeles Clippers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Corey Brewer (33) blows on his hands during warmup before playing against the Los Angeles Clippers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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At 17-19, the Houston Rockets have become the biggest laughing-stock in the association. Since their Christmas day victory over the San Antonio Spurs, the Rockets have posted a league worst 1-4 record over the past two weeks. Even the Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers have played better basketball than Houston over the past five games.

While everyone has blamed the Rockets’ struggles on Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Ty Lawson, there is one player whose lack of production has hurt Houston more than any other Rocket this season. 

After a mid season deal brought him to Clutch City, Corey Brewer solidified himself as one of the top bench players in the league last season. Not only did Brewer became a major upgrade to the Rockets’ bench, but helped improve Houston on the defensive end with his perimeter defense.

Corey Brewer Shot Chart 1
Corey Brewer Shot Chart 1

In his Rockets debut, Brewer scored 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, and 1 block in a 110-95 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. As well as one of the key players who led the Rockets in their epic game 6 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, where he scored 19 points and 10 rebounds.

At the start of this season, Brewer was near a top candidate to win Six Man of the Year. During the preseason, he was the Rocket’s second leading scorer averaging 16.0 points per game.

Corey Brewer Shot Chart 3
Corey Brewer Shot Chart 3

So what happened? How did one of the NBA’s best bench players fall so far and so quickly from grace?

I can’t say for sure, but there is something seriously wrong with Brewer this season, and his regression has shown in stats and performances. In 36 games this season, Brewer has managed to put together the worst season of his career.

Corey Brewe Shot Chart 2
Corey Brewe Shot Chart 2

Note: Shot Charts courtesy of NBAsavant.com

On offense, Brewer has never been a consistent scorer, but has proven to be an offensive threat. Due to his great leaping ability and outstanding body control, Brewer showed his ability to drive to the basket converting difficult plays very few players can complete in the league. However this season, Brewer has not attacked the basket and has settled for jump shots more than ever.

Last season Brewer averaged 11.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, while shooting 43 percent from the field. This season, he’s averaging 6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists.

Although Brewer has never been a phenomenal shooter, he has always shot over 40 percent from the field in his career, until this season. He is shooting a career low 35 percent from the field and a horrendous 28 percent from behind the arc.

According to NBA.com (Stat Section: Shots Dashboard): The only area Brewer is shooting above 40 percent is when his shots are less than 10 feet away from the basket (43.4 percent).  However Brewer’s pull up jumpers have seen their share of trouble this season.

If Brewer takes more than one dribbble before his shot, his field goal percentage decreases less than 13 percent. His overall percentage on dribbble pull ups this season, a horrifying 19.4 percent. 

Yes, This is the same player who once lit James Harden up for a career high 51 points, two seasons ago.

However his biggest regression of the season is his lack of defense. Since entering the league in 2007, Brewer has established himself as one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders, and ranked among the top leaders in steals every year.

His long arms, height, and quickness made the Rockets one of the best defensive teams last season. Brewer was one of the primary reasons the Rockets’ defense ranked in the top half of the association in 2015.

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However this year, Brewer does not contain that same defensive impact. According to NBA.com’s Regular Season Defense Dashboard, when Brewer is defending Houston’s  opponents are shooting 45 percent from the field. (last season 42%)His lack of defense this season is one of the reasons the Rockets have the fifth worst defensive team in the league.

Brewer is no longer the Rockets’ primary perimeter defender. Sure he is still capable of holding his opponents under 50 percent when defending the 3-point shot (34.6 percent). However, his mid-range defense is the worst. When Brewer is guarding the 2-point shot his opponents are shooting a critical 47.6 percent from the field.

Not only has Brewer failed to contest shots, but he’s lost his ability to create and force steals. Throughout his career, Brewer has posted an average of 1.4 steals per game. This year, Brewer is barely averaging a steal (1.1) per game.

Playing 20 minutes per game, the Houston Rockets need Corey Brewer more than any other player coming off the bench to bring energy, defensive intensity and consistency. There was a lot of hope for Brewer at the start of the season, but now he is overlooked as the forgotten Rocket. 

Hopefully Brewer can change his style of play as the Rockets try to make a mid season push in the second half of the year. The longer Corey Brewer continues to struggle, the longer the Rockets defense will take to improve, not to mention their overall record.

Next: Join the Space City Scoop Writing Team

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our Space City Scoop Round Table Sessions to help you get through the season. Start your morning with SCS Daily Rocket Science  which offers an update of news on the Rockets around the National and Social Media sites and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

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