Countdown: Ranking the Mavs -- No. 9

So the NBA owners lock out the players and the NBA league office rids NBA.com of any evidence of current NBA players yet still unveils, with a curious amount of revelry, the 2011-12 NBA schedule.

Talk about fantasy basketball.

That leads me, in a roundabout kind of way, to springy small forward Corey Brewer. When he was traded from Minnesota to New York as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal, and then the Knicks made it clear they planned to waive him, every playoff team in the league seemed to value Brewer as a must-have.

The athletic youngster chose to play for the Dallas Mavericks and signed on for another two seasons. Now, if any of you fantasy players out there scooped up Brewer, well, you probably became quite disappointed (not that he was a great fantasy player in the first place, but just go with it). The guy couldn't get off the bench. Yes, he had his few moments, and none greater than his super eight minutes in the third quarter of Game 1 at Los Angeles when the Mavs trailed by 16 and looked to be headed for a 1-0 hole to the two-time defending champs.

OK, we'll get to the rest of the story below now that I've let the cat out of the bag as to who the next player is in my ongoing Countdown series. If you haven't been following along, I'm ranking and analyzing the 16 players currently on Dallas' 15-man roster, one a day, from least critical to most critical to a title defense (with likelihood of being on the roster next season playing a significant role in the ranking).

So, yes, No. 9 is:


Pos: SF

Ht/Wt: 6-9/188

Experience: 4 years

Age: 25 (March 5, 1986)

Contract status: Signed through 2012-13

2010-11 salary: $2.9 million

2011-12 salary: $3.1 million

His story: So what to make of Corey Brewer? He has tremendous athletic ability, has the long, lanky frame to be an annoying defender. He doesn't have a great offensive game but did show an ability to soar to the bucket and coaches worked relentlessly on his jumper from the time of his arrival in early March. In three-plus seasons with the Timberwolves, Brewer's best season was 2009-10 when he averaged 13.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists playing more than 30 minutes a night as a starter. But in the 56 games he played up north last season, his minutes dropped significantly and so did his production. It's almost impossible to gauge anything with the dysfunction of the Minnesota franchise, so it's tough to say what was really going on there. Most teams, judging by the sudden interest in him last season, believed Brewer has the goods to contribute and a change of scenery to a functioning franchise would greatly help him. Dallas seemed to think he could give them another defender against the wings they'd face in the playoffs.

His outlook: So where does Brewer go now after playing just 23 total minutes in six playoff games for the world champs? He didn't step foot on the floor after May 17. Well, the first question that has to be answered is: Will Caron Butler be back? If Butler returns, he figures to reclaim his starting spot at small forward (assuming his surgically repaired right knee is ready to go, and there's no reason to believe it won't be after his well-chronicled, grueling rehab) and Shawn Marion will slide back to the bench. Shooting guard? Well, there's not a lot of PT going on there with Rudy Fernandez, Jason Terry and Rodrigue Beaubois all in the mix. Now, if Butler moves on, that changes everything. Either the Mavs dip into the free-agent market or they put their trust in Brewer as a likely backup to Marion. Dallas wanted Brewer because he gives them another young, athletic player on a team that doesn't have many of those types in a league that's growing more youthful and athletic every day. However, the question remains whether there will be a consistent role for him next season among all those older dudes coach Rick Carlisle trusts so much.

The Countdown

No. 16 DeShawn Stevenson

No. 15 Peja Stojakovic

No. 14 Dominique Jones

No. 13 Ian Mahinmi

No. 12 Brian Cardinal

No. 11 Rodrigue Beaubois

No. 10 Brendan Haywood

No. 9 Corey Brewer

No. 8 Coming Tuesday