James Harden then DeMar DeRozan.
Good luck, Corey Brewer. Show us you deserve to be here.
Brewer, signed by the Sixers to a 10-day contract last Tuesday, has improbably proven he’s worthy of a roster spot, at least to his teammates.
DeRozan managed 26 points Wednesday night in the Sixers’ dramatic 122-120 win over the Spurs (see observations), but most of them came against defenders besides Brewer. The 32-year-old veteran with the contagious, ecstatic smile had nine points, two steals and two assists in 27 minutes and forced several DeRozan turnovers.
Joel Embiid doesn’t want Brewer to leave anytime soon.
He just brings something different, that energy. When he goes on the floor he has a role and he executes it. He knows what his role is and that is to, I guess, annoy and play great defense on the other team’s best player, and he’s been doing that for the past two games. He got James frustrated last game and I think he did a pretty good job in the second half against DeMar. We’re going to need him to keep doing that. He should definitely stick around.
JJ Redick is on the same page.
“Corey’s been great,” Redick said. “He’s a pro. He’s an energy guy and he’s given us a real lift when we’ve needed it. He’s been fantastic. I don’t know what’s going on with the 10-day, but hopefully he’s back for another one.”
Brewer’s stats aren’t exceptional, but it’s clear he’s already made his presence felt in ways that don’t show up in the box score.
There’s that intangible energy, the knack for getting under superstars’ skin. There’s the open-court speed, the smart cuts off the ball, the lateral quickness that, somehow, no NBA team decided to acquire until January. And, according to head coach Brett Brown, there’s Brewer’s willingness to speak up during games and in practices when he feels something should be said.
Landry Shamet credited Brewer for helping the Sixers maintain their intensity when they fell behind Wednesday night.
“I thought we had really good resolve any time they made a run,” Shamet said. “I think it was Corey that said something after one of the timeouts where they went up 10 or something. He said, ‘Alright, they made their run, let’s make ours.’ … We did a good job staying level-headed and continuing to claw back.”
At his locker before the game, preparing for another defensive assignment against an All-Star, Brewer emphasized that being vocal is genuine for him.
I feel like when I speak, I have something to say. If I’m telling them something, it means something. I don’t just talk for no reason. Some guys talk for no reason, but I feel like I’ve been here [nine] days and you ask those guys — if I tell them something, it’s to try to help the team win. I’m not going to tell them crap just for ‘veteran leadership.’ I’m not going to put on a front; I’m not one of those guys. You can tell the way I play, I don’t put on a front for nobody.
General manager Elton Brand now has to decide whether Brewer deserves more than 10 days with the Sixers. No matter how hard you look, chances are you’ll struggle to find anyone who has played with or watched Brewer who thinks this should be the end of his tenure in Philadelphia.
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