Stats: 57 G, 57 GS, 19.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.5 bpg, .475 FG%, .798 FT%, 18.2 PER
Preseason expectations: “Brook Lopez is a future All-Star in the NBA and will be the central cog in the Nets’ offense again in his third season. One thing to watch out for is how he copes with the league’s more aggressive stance on player conduct with respect to the referees on the court. We all know, Lopez likes to show his emotions and pout on the court, and the referees aren’t going to be as flexible with it this season. That said, he’ll probably get more calls as he garners more clout around the league and won’t have to complain as much as he did the last two seasons. Still, figure that his total of 5 technical fouls will increase this year.”
The Good: Brook Lopez hasn’t missed a game all season, or in any season – he has a consecutive games streak of 221, including a games started streak of 214. He’s recently started to score at an elite level again as well. After dealing with issues everywhere in the first half of the season, since January 14th he’s scored 20 points or more 11 times and 25 or more seven times. His production heading into the all-star break was at the level I’d expect from a guy with his talent level inside, and he should only get better. He’s also averaging slightly more free throws per minute than last year, an indicator that he’s getting a few more calls.
The Bad: There’s no question that Brook Lopez has taken a step back this season. His rebounding is at a laughable low, grabbing only six boards per 36 minutes. For a guy who’s 6’5″, that’s not bad, but Brook is 7’2″. His rebound percentage is exactly the league average – 10% – which, again, would be fine if he played shooting guard. On top of those issues, Brook has also been less than efficient this year, shooting just 47.5% from the field on exclusively two-pointers. That number was much worse earlier in the season, and has increased from his latest surge. Frankly, I expected a lot more from him at this point, and he’s got a lot of work to make it up.
The Extra: Clearly, Brook Lopez was beaten down for the first half of this season by his summer bout with mononucleosis. He was a step slow and not aggressive going towards the basket, which resulted in a lot of jump shots and a lack of effort. He’s also clashed with Avery Johnson on a couple of occasions this season, presumably for the aforementioned effort issues.
Final Grade: I had high hopes for Lopez this season, and although he came into this season skinny as a rail, his underperformance was at times inexcusable. Still, it’s clear to see that he’s moving forward as a player, and he’s finally started to regain the ability we all know he’s got. He’s hit game-winners with guys literally hitting him in the back, scored 30+ points against great defenders, and looked like the scorer the Nets thought he would become. However, it’s clear he may never be an elite rebounder or #1 option. Thankfully, Deron Williams should open the floor a lot for him in the second half. Grade: C+