Back to School: Brook Lopez

With the NBA season soon coming and the back to school stench in the air, it seems only natural to check out how the Nets are preparing. In an imaginary world where NBA players attend basketball prep school, here’s some courses & required reading we suggest.

Prerequisite reading: Based on past interviews (and subway posters), Brook Lopez is clearly a DC comics guy, but if he wants to become a better teammate this season, it may behoove him to check out a classic title from Marvel. The Fantastic Four may not have the flash and style of more popular Marvel titles like The Avengers and the 950 X-Men series, but it does feature important lessons regarding the cohesiveness of teamwork. The Fantastic Four are never greater than the sum of their parts – each member brings a unique set of attributes to battle that together have helped the team overcome some of the galaxy’s greatest threats (how would you like having to face arguably the most powerful villain in comic book history in Doctor Doom on a regular basis? It would be like having to work together to take down LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals every year).

Like the Fantastic Four, the Nets “Core Four” seem to have a complimentary set of attributes. The quick-thinking, saavy and leadership of Deron Williams is certainly similar to Mister Fantastic Reed Richards and while Joe Johnson would probably bristle at the thought of being compared to sometimes damsel-in-distress Invisible Woman Sue Richards, she does have a knack of quietly and intelligently getting herself out of tough situations. Gerald “Crash” Wallace plays with the same kind of chaotic intensity of Human Torch Johnny Storm, which leads Brook Lopez to be The Thing in this assembly of superheroes/basketball players. Ben Grimm’s Thing is a rich, multi-faceted character who balances immense strength and brashness with a goofy sense-of-humor and loyalty. When the group is in a tough situation, he’s almost always the first of the four to throw himself in front of the danger to protect his teammates. When Human Torch died (in comic books peak) two years ago, Thing never got over the fact that he didn’t put himself in harm’s way first. Brook should take note. When this season begins, he needs to let DWill be DWill, Joe be Joe and Crash create chaos. Lopez just needs to be steadfast and ready if the team finds its back against the wall to use his size and strength to not only lead a counter-attack but to defend his teammates from additional punishment. -Mark Ginocchio

Film Studies: Lithuanian Influence on American culture, 1995-2003. Course description: Can you simultaneously tower over opponents and possess the ability and instinct to read and defer when necessary? Few men possess these traits, perhaps none better than Lithuanian center Arvydas Sabonis, officially measured at 7’3″ and retiring from the NBA with an assist rate of 15%, ranking him third all-time among 7-footers. Sabonis’s passing numbers undersold his overall passing ability, as he was an excellent reader of double-teams and found open men out of the post with regularity. Additionally, despite entering the NBA with serious physical limitations, Sabonis was both a solid defender and excellent rebounder. A highlight reel example (specifically the NBA and other post-injury clips):

Students expected to take notes on passing style, defensive reads (with a special focus on double-teams), and proper form attacking the basket, both for rebounding and scoring.

Elective: Centrist Ideology for One-Sided Radicals. Course description: Are you stuck on one side of the aisle, unable to properly understand and utilize all sides? This course deals with the proper methods of finding the middle ground from any and all angles. This course could be especially useful for someone that shot 51.9% on 738 field goal attempts from one side and just 46.7% on 520 attempts on the other in his last full season.{{1}}[[1]](source: VORPed)[[1]] The course could be doubly useful for someone filling a unique role on a well-balanced team that desperately needs some answers from the other side.

Student notes: Lopez is entering the next major chapter of his career. After playing just five games last season and entering the first of a four-year contract worth over $60 million, it’s widely believed that Lopez needs to improve on two facets of the game that are considered basic tenets of the NBA center: defense and rebounding. Lopez has never been a good defender by reputation, particularly helping off his man, and his rebounding numbers have dropped steadily since he entered the league. This is Lopez’s first season as a cog in a good team’s machine, rather than the engine in a bad one, and thus Lopez has a unique opportunity to grow as a player in facets of the game he hasn’t focused on — namely rebounding, passing, and defending the basket.