Like just about every other Nets fan, I think that Brook Lopez needs more touches. In fact, after last night’s game, I was ready to blast Kiki and Brook’s teammates for not getting him the ball enough. To prove that he wasn’t getting the ball enough, I went over to my favorite statistical website (HoopData.com) and I looked for Brook’s Usage Rate, expecting to see it low compared to other NBA centers. Well, I was very surprised with what I saw. As it turns out, Brook Lopez is getting plenty of touches. Among centers who get over 25 minuets per game (37 of them), Brook Lopez is 5th with a Usage Rate of 23.73. This is slightly below guys like Al Jefferson, Shaq, Tim Duncan, and Chris Kaman. Brook is ahead of guys like Dwight Howard, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut. The average usage rate among centers is 16.92.
Usage Rate measures the percentage of possessions used by the player. While it isn’t a perfect measure of a player’s touches (it only counts possessions that directly end because of the player – free throws turnovers, and shots), it is the best that we have at this point and time.
So why does it seem that Brook Lopez doesn’t get enough touches then? This is a tough question, and I have been racking my brain since I figured out how high Brook’s Usage Rate is. I first thought that it was Brook’s turnovers that inflated his Usage Rate. I mean, it does look like he turns it over a ton, especially when he gets double teamed. However, his turnover rate is actually well below average for a NBA center (12.04 vs. 14.27).
After looking at some more numbers, I think I finally got something. When looking at the % of baskets assisted, Brook Lopez’s number is well below average. 55.4% of Brook Lopez’s shots are assisted, while the average number of baskets assisted for NBA centers is 63.5 (Chris Kaman for example has a % Assisted of 71.3). What does this number tell us? Well, it tells us that the quality of Brook’s touches are low and they need to improve.
I got to this conclusion because if Brook’s teammates aren’t getting an assist on his basket (usually you are credited with an assist if a player you pass it to scores after at most 1 dribble), that means he is creating his own shot. Centers shouldn’t really create their own shots. The should be getting the ball in the paint, where they can make a quick move and score. Brook Lopez never seems to have that happen enough in a game, in fact I remember during the second Pistons game Brook had three baskets where he had to take his man off the dribble from the three point line. Centers shouldn’t be doing that. Also, Brook does seem to force up shots where he is dribbling in the middle and kind of just throws it up at the rim.
Both Brook Lopez and his teammates need to do some things different to improve the quality of his shots. Brook needs to hold his post up longer. At times he seems to get frustrated that he doesn’t get the ball, and he gives up his position. Also, Brook needs to keep the shots he forces up to a minimum. If he feels like he can’t get a good basket, kick it out, and get the ball back on a repost. What his teammates need to do is get him the ball when he seals. There have been plenty of times where Brook has a great seal, and whoever is on the wing is holding the ball over his head, thinking about passing it to him, and eventually doesn’t. Brook Lopez is a pretty big guy, if he gets a good seal, all you need to do to get him the ball is lob it up in the air.
So now when you are looking for something to complain about after the next Nets’ loss, instead of saying “Brook needs more touches,” say “Brook needs more QUALITY touches.”