In the wake of the Bulls’ loss to the Miami Heat in five games in the Eastern Conference finals, there were understandable questions about how they would improve production at the 2-guard spot.
This summer, it would have been difficult to imagine the answer was sitting on the bench.
The signing of Rip Hamilton dominated talks at the Berto Center during a condensed training camp, but no sooner than the Bulls acquired the veteran shooting guard, he injured his groin, causing him to miss nine of the Bulls’ 14 games.
In stepped Ronnie Brewer, who was shooting 58.3 percent from three-point range and 51.9 percent from the field before Saturday’s victory against the Raptors.
“Just repetition,” Brewer said of his improved jump shot. “My teammates have been behind me. It’s all about confidence, and when you’re knocking down shots, you have a lot of confidence.”
Brewer’s awkward shooting form, the result of a broken right arm in fourth grade that limits the mobility of his elbow, had defenses challenging him to shoot the outside shot.
Not this season, which has been to the benefit of Derrick Rose, who has seen his assist totals rise.
“He’s going to have a lot of open shots, especially with the way teams are playing us,” Rose said. “In the past, he was usually the one people would gamble off of but now you can’t do that.
“[He] has a lot of confidence with shooting the ball and defensively he’s always going to be there.”
Last season, coming in after singing with the Bulls as a free agent, Brewer was expected to challenge for the starting job.
But Brewer nursed a hamstring injury and gave way to Keith ÂBogans, who started all 82 games for the Bulls last season but was Âreleased when Hamilton signed.
When Hamilton returns, Brewer is expected to return to his role coming off the bench. Coach Tom Thibodeau values what Brewer brings to the bench.