When the Mavs signed the young Corey Brewer to a 3-year contract in March 2011, I talked myself into Brewer very quickly. He was a talented young player who played on a national championship roster in college at Florida with Joakim Noah and Al Horford. He was drafted seventh overall by the Timberwolves in 2007, where he spent his first three and a half years.
His time in Minny was both good and bad. Those Minnesota teams were pretty awful, which gave Brewer a chance to really get some serious playing time early in his career. Unfortunately he missed most of his second season due to injury, and despite showing flashes of potential, never really seemed to put it together in his first stint up north. Despite the fact that he started every game in the 2009-10 season and averaged 13 points per game while showing a penchant for really quality defense, Minnesota included him as part of the three-team Carmelo Anthony trade, and the Knicks immediately waived him.
That is how Dallas was fortunate enough to sign a talented young player in his fourth season to a roster mostly known for savvy vets. In many ways, he was my Chandler Parsons before Chandler Parsons became a thing.
I quickly fell in love with Brewer, even though Carlisle almost never played him. I figured he was the Mavs' shooting guard of the future. He was only 24 years old, was a quality perimeter defender, and had a tremendous amount of potential on the offensive end with his athleticism and lanky 6-9 frame. Plus he genuinely seemed like a fun guy. He was always laughing and had just the goofiest grin. And those dunks! Brewer was going to be fun for years to come.
The eight minutes of awesome he contributed in the Mavs' Game 1 comeback against the defending champion LA Lakers only fueled the fire for my boundless optimism about Brewer's future with the Mavs. (Doyle recently wrote an excellent piece on Brewer and that game for Mavs Moneyball's Championship Week). Alas, it wasn't meant to be.
My most vivid memory related to Corey Brewer is the pure and utter hatred I felt for Mark Cuban when Brewer was traded away for nothing because Cuban thought he could outsmart the rest of the league on the new CBA. Cuban decided that cap space was more valuable than a talented, unique young player on an affordable contract. I seriously ranted about this for days afterwards. I was already frustrated that we passed on drafting Jordan Hamilton (who I was really high on leading up to that draft) for Rudy Fernandez, who I always hated. And then Cuban turned both Brewer and Fernandez into a piddly 2016 second round pick.
As it became increasingly clear that "Plan Powder" was a terrible, horrible, no good plan that basically wasted two years of Dirk's career, losing Brewer became almost akin to letting go of Nash for me. It's something I'll probably never fully forgive Cuban for. This pain was never more strongly felt than when Brewer had that wonderful 51-point, 6-steal game last season.
I admit that Brewer never quite developed into the borderline all-star that I expected him to become back in 2011. He didn't really get opportunities to start in his two seasons with Denver, and while he started all 82 games last year in his second stint with the T-Wolves, consistency has continued to be an issue. Still, he seems like the kind of guy who could've thrived under Carlisle's tutelage, especially given his natural instincts on the defensive end. That's what I tell myself anyway.
But we'll always have that Game 1 spark, right?