LeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Chris Paul. Kevin Durant. Brook Lopez?
Maybe not so far-fetched.
David Thorpe of ESPN.com put together an excellent breakdown on ESPN Insider of how Lopez has evolved since his days at Stanford, noting that his NBA 4th-best PER is not an accident, but a recognition of the type of player Lopez has become in his fourth season. Thorpe says that Lopez is playing with an important distinction: “like a skilled big man rather than a big man trying to show off his skills.” One example:
Observers and talent evaluators always saw amazing value in Lopez because he had both the size and the skill to be a dominant center in a league that has few such big men. Now that he is using his physical talents more than ever, his skill game shines even brighter.
Watching Lopez in the low post as the Nets’ first option is a treat. We see him employ methodical post moves — banging his man before shooting an easy jumper from 9 feet away. Then he’ll use a quick attack move for the layup. And because Lopez can shoot, he likes to face up. If the defender stays low, readying himself for contact if Lopez bodies him down into the paint, Lopez will just shoot over the crouched defender. That is a smart move, especially if Lopez is gaining good position his initial catch.
Thorpe is one of the sharpest NBA evaluators around, and his analysis is one of the best given to Lopez by a national writer all year. Give it a read.