BY JOHN HOOD
It has been a roller-coaster ride this season for Nets big man Brook Lopez: along with his eminently photographable face, Lopez was selected to the All-Star team for the first time in his young career. But, since then, he hasn’t played much like one.
Outside of his 27-point outburst against the Rockets, Lopez hasn’t been the same since the All-Star break.
However, should the Nets be concerned about Lopez’s lack of production? Taking a look at the numbers, Lopez has taken almost exactly 65% of his shots from within eight feet of the rim, making most of his field goal attempts high percentage shots.
However, where he thrived before the All-Star break, he is now struggling significantly. Before the break, Lopez was shooting 68% from inside the restricted area. That number has dipped to 56% since.
This has to be a concern for the Nets, who have been unable to find offense at time against both the Grizzlies and Rockets (two losses). Lopez is getting his attempts at the rim and not converting, shooting just 33% (6-18) on layup attempts since the All-Star break.
The Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert had a similar drop-off last season after he was selected to his first All-Star Game. Before the All-Star Break, Hibbert converted on 61% of his shots from within the restricted area. But after the break, his conversion rate fell off to 54%. This season Hibbert has struggled through the worst offensive season of his young career, falling off from his All-Star caliber play last season. That’s not to say Lopez will follow down the same path, but his production against higher-quality teams is a concern.
Lopez is ranked 12th in the NBA with a 28.6 usage rating for the Nets, and without Joe Johnson in the lineup, the Nets’ offense normally runs through him and Deron Williams.
Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo has played a role in limiting Brook Lopez's production. In the first four games after the All-Star break, Lopez barely saw the floor during the fourth quarter, as Carlesimo opted to go with Andray Blatche. This hurt the Nets in their two losses without Joe Johnson. While Carlesimo made a point of getting Lopez in the 4th quarter of Wednesday night's win against the Bobcats, he hasn’t been consistent with getting Lopez late minutes.
Statistical support for this story was provided by NBA.com.