Friday, February 8, 2013

Best Center in NBA ( hint it's not Tyson or Dwight)

Soft, slow, laterally challenged, plays small, and of course poor rebounder, are all adjectives draped over Brook Lopez like an over sized jersey. Fast forward to 2013;you have a new arena, a true point guard, a superior shooting guard, and a coach with a semblance of offensive imagination. What do you get? A Brook Lopez who is outplaying all  NBA centers. Mark Twain may have said  there are " lies, damn lies, and statistics," but the numbers tell a "Brook-credible"story. Lopez has with a PER of 25.33( player efficiency rating measuring statistical per minute production) that ranks fourth in entire NBA-right below some guys named LeBron, Kevin, and Chris.

Sure you can talk about Tyson Chandler, or a diminished Dwight Howard, an emerging Demarcus Cousins, or even Andrew Bynum who has not even suited up yet. But, Brook is playing at a another level-a level that plays out well in the post-season. Lopez is finally playing with the physicality and aggressiveness  his supporters have been yearning for since he was drafted in the first round with the tenth pick in 2008. No longer is Brook hoisting up fall-away jump shots on the perimeter. Rather, he is dominating the interior in this new era of "spread the floor small-ball" by positioning himself under the rim. As a result not only is he is shooting a career high 72.6 percent at the rim, he is sporting the highest offensive rebound rate of his career at 10.9 percent.

Offensively, he is more cognizant of the double teams and he is making quicker more decisive decisions with the ball. That includes passing when opposing teams double on the catch, and re-posting on the blocks using  shot fakes to gain better position while drawing fouls. He finally seems to understand how to use his 7 foot 1, 275 pound frame to his advantage. Moreover, Lopez is also one of the few NBA centers  equally as effective on the pick-and-roll as he is  the pick-and-pop. He is a prime beneficiary of new Brooklyn Net's coach PJ Carlisimo's flex-motion offense where is the primary scoring option.

Defensively, no one is confusing Lopez with Tyson Chandler with his ability to show and recover on pick-and-rolls, but is is showing a better overall court awareness especially on rotations and help defense. His unique ability to block shots with both hands has translated to nearly 2.3 blocks a game-fifth in the NBA. He is also averaging only 2.1 personal fouls a game, second lowest of his career.

Lopez's greatest impact will be in the playoffs where the game slows down and the ability to get points in the paint are critical. This is where the Nets have an advantage over say their New York rivals on 33rd Street. The Nets have two elite-shot creators and a true post presence.   If the Nets do pick up some shooters at the trading deadline( they are discussing a Kris Humphries  for Ben Gordon swap), they will be a tough out. For now Lopez has stepped up and made his detractors look rather myopic when discussing his well chronicled limitations. Bigs take longer to develop then smalls, and Lopez will only get better with time. With some help the best team come playoff time may be the one without Carmelo.

No comments:

Post a Comment