The surprising Utah Jazz are out to a hot start this season sitting atop the association with a 15-4 mark. Utah finished last years campaign with a disappointing .500 record and missed the playoffs by 3 games. During the offseason, General Manager Kevin OConner did little to tinker with the Jazz roster relying heavily on veteran free agent acquisition Derek Fisher
, 3 draft picks, and the health of Carlos Boozer
for the team to make a run at the playoffs. Utah has benefited from the play of their rookies including Paul Millsap
who has emerged as an effective undersized power forward drafted in the second round and who will inevitably draw some rather obvious but superficial comparisons to Ryan Gomes
. The Jazz first round pick, Ronnie Brewer
, is a 67 three position player who has also seen significant playing time and has started 10 of the Jazz 19 games thus far. Draft Express will be following the progress of Brewer during his rookie season with a monthly report, of which, this is the first installment.
Brewer was a highly touted prospect prior to the June draft and is noted to have all the physical gifts a general manager looks for in a lottery pick. Brewer is long, possesses an excellent handle, and has the cerebral aptitude required to run the point guard position. Brewers height creates a significant mismatch for opposing point guards and since Ronnie knows his way in the paint he is the perfect player to exploit that advantage even when a help defender arrives in time to switch or double. However, Utah has been blessed by the play of Deron Williams
at the point and acquired the elder statesman Derek Fisher
to lead the team when Williams grabs a towel and takes a seat on the bench. As a result, Brewer has been used strictly on the wing by Coach Jerry Sloan
The Utah Rookie has logged 10 minutes or greater in 10 of the Jazz first 19 games. In those contests Ronnie has averaged 8.3 points on 58.6% shooting to go with 1.1 steals per game. Brewer has done most of his damage on offense playing under the rim as he has shown an uncanny ability to get one foot in the box with no defender in sight. Brewer is able to do this most often by finding a seam in the defense courtesy of a double team on Carlos Boozer
. Brewer slides into the paint underneath the defense as they collapse on Boozer and are unable to adjust before it is too late. Ronnie times this perfectly and it is this fundamental awareness of the game that makes him so effective in this manner.
One known area of weakness with Brewer is his spot up jump shot, something he will have to work on if he is to be successful as an eventual starter in the league and even more so if the Jazz intend to play him at the wing instead of grooming him as a point guard. It is difficult to evaluate Brewers shooting form because he has a bone protruding from the triceps area of his dominate arm. Consequently, Brewer developed an unorthodox form for his jumper forcing him to splay his elbow and resulting in various inconsistencies in his shot.
When Brewer is shooting well he jumps vertically and releases the ball at the apex of the shot with a quick flick of the wrist, wetting the net. Various things happen when Brewers spot up jumper is not falling however. Most often the culprit is a visible hitch on his way up for the shot. The more pronounced form of this hitch can be seen as an exaggerated double pump and is sometimes accompanied by a significant amount of lateral movement toward the hoop. The more subtle version of the hitch is far less noticeable and marked by a slight hesitation at the apex of the shot almost as if Brewer is consciously attempting to hold back the double pump. The result of that late release is that the ball either falls short or forces Ronnie to overcompensate by pushing the ball long, often missing the rim altogether.
Based on a small sample size, Brewer appears to have no limit to his mid range jump shot when his form is decent but has been unable to extend that out beyond the arc. He has yet to make a three pointer in his NBA career missing all 6 attempts that he has taken. It is possible however that as Ronnie develops some confidence in his shot and establishes a consistent form that he could increase his effective range to include the trifecta.
Well be monitoring the progress of Brewers shot as the season goes along as well as how he adjusts to garnering more attention from defenses in the post if he gets more touches and playing time. Next month well take a look at Ronnies defensive capabilities and also hope to have more data in regards to assists and rebounding so that we can further evaluate which of the three possible positions he is best suited to play at the NBA level.