2. Get Brook Lopez Involved Later
The Brooklyn Nets have made a point of getting Brook Lopez involved early in games, as he leads the team with 6.8 points on 5.2 field goal attempts per game in the first quarter. His involvement has been a huge lift early in games to get the Nets off to a good start. But once that first quarter ends, Lopez’s involvement in the offense begins to dovetail.
This is a function of the Nets’ occasionally oddly stagnant fourth-quarter offense, heavily reliant on isolations and guard play. In the fourth, the Nets’ Joe Johnson and Deron Williams combine to shoot 37.7% on 6.8 field goal attempts per final quarter. Lopez shoots 53.6% on 2.9 field goal attempts per final quarter.
Lopez averages 9.7 third-quarter minutes per game, as opposed to just 6.9 in the fourth. He’s sat the entire fourth quarter 14 times (12 in the P.J. Carlesimo era), so if you average that over his 63 games, that’s a paltry 5.4 fourth-quarter minutes per game. About half of those benchings were in blowouts, which are understandable, but even if you consider his limited playing time, Lopez takes fewer field goal attempts per minute in each quarter (i.e. he has fewer field goal attempts per minute in the second quarter than the first, and fewer in the third quarter than the second, etc.), culminating in a normally quiet fourth for Brook.
Lopez’s dive in offensive involvement in the fourth may make sense if he was the type of center the Nets would want to avoid sending to the line, but he’s a 77% shooter from the charity stripe — one of the best centers in the league.
One bit of good: Lopez’s free throw attempts and fouls drawn do spike in the fourth quarter, and it’s not a function of intentional fouls late in games — as a center, Lopez rarely sees the ball in those moments — but rather defenses getting intensely more physical in the fourth when trying to prevent easy shots at the rim. But the Nets could stand to give him a bit more time with the ball when it matters most. He’s done pretty well before.
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