OKC Thunder: Why Ronnie Brewer can't get on the floor

by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 12, 2013

The first signs of hope were seen two months ago.

Something special was brewing with the Thunder's bench back then.

Tenacity, toughness, togetherness, the second string possessed it all.

A defensive identity was being built, on the backs of a motley crew that consisted of Reggie Jackson, Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha, DeAndre Liggins, Nick Collison and Hasheem Thabeet.

They did the dirty work. They didn't mind. They just got the job done.

And then Oklahoma City started overthinking. The Thunder inexplicably went away from what was working, sitting various pieces that comprised that effective combination and slowly suppressing the successes the second unit had enjoyed.

When the trade deadline arrived, the Thunder acquired Ronnie Brewer for peanuts. He appeared to be a perfect fit, a defensive-minded player with a pristine reputation who could step in and immediately help revive the second group's one-time tenacity.

Wrong.

Brewer hasn't played. Not much, that is, and the question many now want an answer to is why?

Thunder coach Scott Brooks, though, hasn't budged. Even as his second string continues to struggle with stopping opponents consistently — most notably the past two defeats, against San Antonio and Denver — Brooks has resisted inserting Brewer into the rotation.

“There's not a lot of minutes right now,” Brooks said. “But we're happy that we have him. It gives us an option if we need it. But right now he just has to stay ready.”

Obvious opportunities to unleash Brewer have passed the Thunder by. OKC has dodged a bullet at times but been bloodied at others.

Brewer did not play in a March 1 loss to Denver despite Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler coming off the bench to score a team-high 35 points. In that game, the Thunder's reserves were outscored 71-11. Brewer also was reduced to a bystander last Thursday, when he returned to New York for the first time since the trade and watched former teammate J.R. Smith erupt for a game-high 36 points off the bench. The Thunder won that contest by a point. And when San Antonio swingmen Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were pouring in a combined 45 points in the Spurs' 105-93 win on Monday, Brewer was nowhere to be found.

With only 18 games remaining — starting with Wednesday's against a Utah team that drafted Brewer and currently leads the league in scoring differential in bench points — it's only natural to wonder whether we'll see Brewer at all when it matters this season. If Brewer continues to ride the pine in the home stretch, it seems unlikely he'll be thrown into the playoff fire.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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