On Monday afternoon the Chicago Bulls signed free agent swingman Ronnie Brewer for the rest of the season. This will be Brewer’s second go-around with the Bulls, after being with the organization for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons. The addition of Brewer adds depth to the wing position, but also adds another defensive stopper to go along with perennial All-Defensive wing Jimmy Butler. Whether or not Brewer finds time on the court remains to be seen, but his abilities and attributes could provide the Bulls some much needed help as they hope to make a deep playoff run.
Before rejoining the Bulls for a second time, Brewer spent the seasons in between traveling through three different cities. Signing as a free agent with New York Knicks in the 2012 offseason, after the Bulls failed to pick up his player option, Brewer only made it half way through the season with the ball club before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. With the Knicks, Brewer quickly fell out of rotation for a team who relied heavily on the three-point barrage, an area Brewer doesn’t have a knack for. Brewer’s stint with the Thunder wasn’t any better. Brought in to help the team on the defensive end, Brewer was never able to crack Scott Brooks’ rotation. Once the 2012-2013 season concluded, he became one of many wing players to sign with the Houston Rockets. It was thought that Brewer’s niche for defensive could provide help for the Rockets, but his inability to stretch the floor on offense for James Harden and Dwight Howard and company left him yet again, out of the rotation and soon out of a job.
Ronnie Brewer’s lone two seasons with the Chicago Bulls would prove to be his best as a pro. With defense being his forte, he thrived under defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau, being a key cog to one of the league’s stingiest defenses while also helping anchor the infamous “Bench Mob”. While under the watchful eyes of Thibodeau upon the sidelines, during the 2010-2011 season, Brewer’s defense ranked him 42nd in the league overall. Per Synergy, Brewer was allowing opponents to shoot a dismal 31.6% in isolation plays, 35% out of the pick-and-roll, 33.3% in the post and 38.9% on spot up opportunities. The following year was the lockout shortened, 66-game season, though with the condensed scheduling Brewer’s statistics remained stout. That season Brewer, according to Synergy, within the same categories as previously listed, he allowed opponents to shoot, 31.8%, 40.7%, 28.6%, 37.7%, respectively.
For this years Bulls team, as they near the playoffs, Brewer should be able to provide that same level of defense and more importantly experience and depth at the wing position. With starting wing Jimmy Butler averaging 38.4 minutes per game, having a player like Brewer, who is able to come in, without a significant drop-off on the defensive end will prove vital. Granted, Brewer’s offense is limited, he has always done a fair job of cutting on the offensive end and finding the open areas in the defense. At points, Thibs may even be able to play Brewer at the two alongside Butler, shifting him to his natural position. A lineup with the combination of Brewer and Butler, though it may not be an offensive juggernaut, could be pivotal against teams featuring dynamic offensive duos such as LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, as well as Paul George and Lance Stephenson.
Now, I’m sure some are wondering about the rookie Tony Snell and recent signee Jimmer Fredette. While Tony Snell has surprisingly held his own for the most part during his rookie year, come playoff time it’s a completely different ball game than the regular season. With his experience and defensive expertise, Brewer may very well end up taking Snell’s minutes as Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Butler’s primary backup. In regards to Mr. Fredette, well, there is always going to be the defense thing, and if he hasn’t gotten meaningful playing time by now, he surely will not get it when the playoffs arrive. Though, I will always leave out hope for the “Jimmer Game” (Thibs eventually puts him in and he goes off for multiple three’s). Nonethless, Brewer has played under Thibs before, he’s earned his trust, and it should only be a matter of time before we see Brewer running with the Bulls again.