The Brook Lopez Blueprint.

Ever since the Nets’ chances of acquiring Dwight Howard evaporated, Brook Lopez has become the most popular guy in the Barclays Center. It started with King offering him an over-market deal of $60 million guaranteed over four years. Everyone – from GM Billy King down to star point guard Deron Williams – has gone out of their way to say nice things about Brook after that deal, with the PR campaign only getting ramped up since D12 officially became a Laker.

One can understand the rationale behind this. Of the Nets’ new “Core Four”, Lopez is the longest-serving Net and therefore the one most familiar to the fans. There’s the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” and you can often see this in the way fans talk about Brook. Message board types like ourselves love to criticize his mediocre rebounding, his sometimes lackadaisical effort on defense, average athleticism, fondness for comic books, whatever. I don’t want to do that here. I want to look at what he can do.

During the Olympics, I often joked that I wanted to make babies with Liz Cambage so that our sons could play in the NBA. While this would never happen (for one, dad is only 5’9”) it’s based in a truth. If you are 7 feet tall, can walk in a straight line, chew gum and spell your own name you can play in the NBA. If you’re a 7 footer who can run the floor, shoot the mid range jumper and score in the low post you’re knocking on the door of All-Star level. Brook can do all of those things as well as anyone in the league. After Andrew Bynum, I would say he’s the second best low post scoring center in the NBA today, with his variety of moves, clever fakes and ability to make the shots (a skill that eludes a certain big new Laker). Unlike Dwight, Lopez can make his free throws and hit 15 foot jumpers as well. In terms of offense, you really can’t get a whole lot more versatile and consistent than Brook Lopez in today’s NBA. This isn’t the league of Hakeem and Shaq anymore.

Now I’m not suggesting that Brook is a better player than D12 at all. I acknowledge that he has his flaws and that he was well below par on the glass last season. However, that was also a year where his name was constantly in trade rumours and he struggled with niggling injuries. Healthy and knowing that the Nets are committed to him will see him return to the form of his first few seasons, where he was a regular 20/10 threat. The team rebounding will also get a boost from signing Reggie Evans and re-signing Hump (two of the best on the glass in the NBA) so Brook won’t have to go get them all himself.

Instead, he’ll be able to focus on what he does do well – scoring. In the 10-11 season, Brook was a 20ppg scorer and he had below-par guard play for most of that season until the Deron trade. In their short time together he looked like a different player. Now not only will he get a full (and hopefully injury free) season with Deron, but teams will also have to key on all our other weapons (JJ, Crash and of course D-Will himself) as well and won’t be able to collapse on Brook in the low post. If he can develop a pick and roll game with Deron then he’ll be a completely rounded offensive center, and there aren’t a lot of those guys in the league today.

This is the biggest reason why the powers that be are talking him up. If the Nets want to win a title soon, they’ve gotta firstly get through Miami in the East. We don’t need to discuss what the South Beach Scum are capable of with LeBron and Wade. But what that team does not have is a true center. As good players as Chris Bosh and LeBron are, forcing them to play the 5 means that the right big has a real opportunity to be the difference maker against them. Roy Hibbert showed as much in the first three games of the second round of the playoffs this year before LeBron flicked the “I’ma Stomp All You Motherfuckers” switch that only he possesses today and Indiana didn’t have anyone to slow him down. We have the guys who can do so (Not stop him – you can’t stop LeBron when he’s at his apex. You can only hope to contain him) on the perimeter, allowing Brook to take advantage of the Heat’s nonexistent interior. He could potentially be the difference maker in a Heat-Nets playoff series if he’s up for it.

Of course, this is all conjencture and someone reading it will probably be calling me a shrimp dick moron right now for thinking Brook Lopez could make an impact against Miami. Whatever.

If Billy King didn’t agree with me, he never would have given him that contract.

If Deron Williams didn’t agree with me, he wouldn’t be looking to get in work with Brook as soon as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the opinions of the people who matter a little more seriously.

Who Won The Dwight Howard Trade?

By now everyone on the internet knows Dwight Howard has been traded to the Lakers. It seems a bit ironic to me that when I finally get my blog up and running and planned to do my first bit on why I don’t want Howard, he’s immediately packed off to LA. (That article will come soon in a different incarnation).

Here’s what all four parties are (so far) believed to have received in the deal:

LA Lakers get: Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark
Orlando Magic get: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and three future No.1 picks (one from each team, varying protections)
Philadelphia 76ers get: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson
Denver Nuggets get: Andre Iguodala

What This Means For The Lakers: It means that they now have the best paper starting 5 in the league. As good as LeBron and Wade are – the Lakers have 4 legit All-Star caliber guys on their squad, all of whom actually (Theoretically) mesh pretty well with each other. For the next couple of years at least the Lakers will continue to be amongst the elite teams of the NBA, barring injury or Nash/Kobe becoming old very quick. You have to imagine David Stern is fist pumping at the thought of a Lakers/Heat Finals now.

With that said…I’m interested to see how Dwight and Kobe react. Dwight has shown himself over the past year or so to be whiny, narcissistic and overly concerned with his self image and with a constant need to be pandered to. Add this to his questionable work ethic and desire to improve and I can’t help but wonder if we’re gonna be seeing Kobe-Shaq 2.0. in a few years.

This is the second most interesting part of the trade.

What This Means For The Sixers: The most interesting part is going to be watching Andrew Bynum in Philly. On talent alone, he’s the second best big man in the league. However, there’s a reason Orlando didn’t want to do a simple Howard/Bynum + cheaper asset swap. Over his career Bynum has developed a rep for being soft and injury prone, and a whiny malcontent when he’s on the court. For his entire career up to now he’s had a fairly easy job as the second/third option on the Lakers behind Kobe and been coddled by the Laker brass. In Philly, that’s gonna change. He’s going to have to grow up pretty quickly and adjust to being the No.1 option on that Sixers squad, while managing the expectations of a disciplinarian head coach in Doug Collins.

To get a second opinion, I texted my Sixer fan and Philly-native boy Al for his opinion. His response:

its not gonna work. Philly fans don’t take whiny little douchebags like Bynum well. They’ll eat him up and he’ll run end of the year.”

A pessimistic take, but one I agree with. Philadelphia, more than any other sports city in the USA, expects 100% from every player on every team every time they do anything. When they don’t (and if they don’t show the fans love) they get mad and are not afraid to show it. They loved and still love Allen Iverson for this reason. How Bynum adjusts to this challenge will make or break this trade for the Sixers. Either it makes them a legit Eastern Conference contender or they’re screwed.

What This Means For The Nuggets: Since they dumped Al Harrington’s bloated deal and upgraded from Aaron Afflalo to Andre Iguodala…I’d say they made out like bandits. It doesn’t make them a title contender, but in Iggy they finally have a guy to shut down Kevin Durant in the Western playoffs. A Conference Finals game isn’t out of the equation in Denver within the next few years.

What This Means For The Magic: A long rebuilding process begins here. The internet is ripping the Orlando front office for taking this offer but its clear that they’re looking at a total rebuild of the squad, and in that case this isn’t such a bad deal. You don’t ever get back equal value (or anything resembling it) for a superstar unless James Dolan and Isiah Thomas are involved.

What you can get is a building block in Afflalo (a good, underrated young 2 guard who plays defense), a couple of young guys in Vucevic (who I like) and Harkless (who I don’t) and a few mid to late 1st draft picks for the future. New GM Rob Hennigan is clearly following his mentor Sam Presti in his approach to building a team. Whether he has the luck of a Presti or Dell Demps in landing high draft picks at the right time remains to be seen.

Other Parties: Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s quest to land a superstar with his bunch of trade assets is probably over, as it doesn’t look like there’s many guys who will be available any time soon. Expect to see a full-bore rebuild in Houston soon – Morey is a smart man and knows that if he can’t get a star through trade he probably needs to hope for one in the draft.

As for the Nets, I was not a fan of adding Dwight anyway as I believe that we are the second best team in the Eastern Conference right now with our current roster. Adding Dwight would just rip our depth apart and bring his toxic personality on the team. We already have a superstar in Deron, and as I will discuss in upcoming weeks, that’s all you need.

From now on, posts will be a little more Nets-centric but this was too major an event (with a legitimate impact on our team’s future) to not comment on first up.

Peace out peoplez.

First post.

So…yeah. This is my first post, so I guess I owe it to anyone who tracks down my little blog to give you the basic info.

Basically, I created this blog to discuss all things Brooklyn Nets. Everything from the team’s performance in their first year in the Barclays Center to how awesome the new uniforms look to who the mystery blonde with Prokhorov was that night and more importantly why she isn’t in my bed. (And that has nothing to do with the fact that I’m fat, broke and living on my parents’ couch right now).

If you have an opinion on anything Nets-related, I’m keen to hear it because it means that someone actually read my work. I honestly don’t expect that to happen much but it would be fun if it did.

About me? Well…my mother gave me a name I never use so you can call me Ash. I’m a 21 year old Australian dude who loves the NBA and has blatantly jumped on the Nets bandwagon after years in fan purgatory. My passion for the NBA and writing about basketball far outweighs my skill at actually playing the game.

Um…when I was fifteen, I had my first ACL injury attempting to dunk off a trampoline? I enjoy long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners with romantic music?
Yeah, I know. This romance probably won’t work out. But it would be cool if we could stay in touch.

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