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.