Fisher, Brewer Additions Have Potential For Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY - There's something fishy brewing in Oklahoma City.
More specifically, that would be the Thunder's recent acquisition of Derek Fisher and Ronnie Brewer and what it means for the team moving forward.
While neither move was earth-shattering – nor did they fill the scoring void in the post – both are quality additions that could pay huge dividends for the team in the coming months.
First off, let's start with Brewer. The sixth-year forward out of Arkansas is similar to Thabo Sefolosha, just without the outside shooting ability. Take their size for example: Brewer is 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, while Sefolosha comes in at 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds. But in addition to their measurable is the fact that both players have carved out their niche in the NBA on the defensive end.
Brewer is a more physical version of Thabo and has experienced some success throughout his career guarding LeBron James, which was no doubt a factor in the Thunder's decision to pick him up.
Brewer's lock-down pedigree has been molded by defensive masterminds Jerry Sloan with the Jazz and Tom Thibodeau for the Bulls, who both rave about his physicality, as well as, his selfless, team-first attitude.
That selflessness is important considering the fact that there is no way he will average the minutes he's accustomed to in OKC. His minutes are already down this season. His 15.5 minutes in 46 games with the Knicks was the lowest average minutes he's seen since his rookie season in 2006-07 in Utah. And it's highly unlikely those minutes will increase in OKC competing for time behind Kevin Durant, Sefolosha and Kevin Martin.
The rest of the regular season will be more of an audition for postseason minutes than an assured role in the rotation. He's going to get a chance to prove what he didn't get in New York: that his defense alone is enough to warrant meaningful minutes.
He fell out of favor in the Knicks' rotation in January. Despite having started 34 games this year, his role was diminished to just 6.9 minutes per game in his final month and a half in the Big Apple.
Brewer is about as much of a "no risk, moderate reward" pickup as there is. The Thunder didn't need to add him but he will provide leadership, depth, and a capable defender to throw at LeBron and other athlete wing players.
The Fisher acquisition also rings of no-risk, moderate-reward qualities.
The perks are obvious: Fisher already has a good rapport with the team, won't need to learn the system, brings five NBA championship's worth of experience, and can serve as a mentor for Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson.
It's unclear what kind of playing time he will get this time around, however, as he will inherit the third point guard role rather than the backup duties.
Coach Scott Brooks confirmed on Tuesday that Fisher will definitely play but in what capacity has yet to be determined.
For those of you who are pro-Reggie Jackson, there is no reason to fear yet. He appears to have entrenched himself as the backup point guard, so much so that it made Eric Maynor expendable at the trade deadline.
Jackson's minutes have steadily increased since mid-December and he is averaging 17.3 minutes per game in February. The situation is different than last year when Fisher was needed for stability that a rookie Jackson couldn't provide.
However, there is something to be said for Brooks' comfort level with Fisher. Expect to see the 17-year veteran in more of a "coach Fisher" role for the near future but the trust this coaching staff has in him come playoff time will likely result in an expanded role as the regular season winds down to carve out a definable role for him heading into the postseason.
It's highly unlikely he will get the 40-minute outings he did from time-to-time last year but, once he's back in playing shape, seeing 8-12 minutes a night isn't far-fetched.
So, while both players can clearly find ways to get on the floor or, at least in Fisher's case, already has a verbal confirmation of playing time, the increased depth and experience both players bring is a positive boost to the Thunder.
But the impact it has on the rotations might not be as rosy. DeAndre Liggins and Perry Jones III's minutes are all but gone as a result and, as benches tend to shrink near the postseason, what impact the new guys have on Jackson's minutes, Thabeet's, Collison's, etc. will be a challenge for coach Brooks to manage.
But having too many capable players is a good problem to have and, while the trade deadline didn't have much star power, the Thunder front office did make savvy moves that offer considerably more promise than problems.