Brook Lopez is a seven-footer, starts at the center position on the New Jersey Nets, and is pegged as one of the future building blocks for the rebuilding franchise. However, Lopez averages just 6.0 rebounds per game, which is pitiful for a man of his caliber and size. That said, Lopez’ rebounding issues are severely overstated and dramatized by the media and Nets fans alike. Consider this: Avery Johnson asked Lopez to take the reins of the offense scheme this season as opposed to last season (where there was no system). This caused Lopez to run the floor in transition as the Nets depended on the forwards to scoop up the defensive rebound.
Also consider that the Nets finished the season with a total rebound rate of 49.45%, one of the few things the Nets did that was around the league average. With elite rebounders like Kris Humphries, the Nets didn’t necessarily need Lopez to take on a rebounding role as opposed to what was a desperate need for offense this season.
I also have my doubts as to how healthy Lopez was this season. He battled mononucleosis over the Summer of Travis Outlaw and dealt with a calcium deposit most of the season. He received surgery for it on Wednesday. Both mono and a calcium deposit would affect the physicality of a player such as Lopez. While Lopez never had exceptional rebounding skill, he was pretty good during his first two seasons. I would expect that after Lopez takes the offseason to heal, he will restore his rebounding numbers back to their original level.
However, the one thing that ticked me off about the criticism of Lopez’s board scoring prowess was that people began to take Lopez for granted. Brook isn’t an All-Star, but there are very few centers in the NBA with his scoring ability. Only three centers averaged more than 20 points per game this season and Lopez was one of them. In terms of PER (largely a measure of offensive efficiency) Lopez ranked seventh, but was behind three players who played less than thirty minutes per game this season. Despite this, Brook has received scorn by Nets fans for his rebounding and isn’t considered the valuable commodity that he is. Lopez may not be the best center in the NBA, but he’s in the second-tier conversation.
I would not trade him for any center in the league except for Dwight Howard.
Brook Lopez is by no means a complete player. It is imperative that he heads to the gym, bulks up, and picks up a few tips from the coaching staff about rebounding. However, Lopez is still the second best player on the Nets and is a valuable piece in our future. His below average rebounding stats this season should not undermine his accomplishments to the degree that they have this season.
I’ll let Avery Johnson finish this for me.
“He had a nice finish to our season and played in 82 games. That is pretty rare for an NBA player, especially for a center. If you look at his production, he got better, he even had a few games where he had 10-plus rebounds and he’s 23 years old, okay?”