A Rajon Rondo injury won’t save Brook Lopez this time. The NBA released the top three All-NBA teams for the 2012-13 season today, and Lopez, the Brooklyn Nets star center, was not among those honored. Lopez was also snubbed as an All-Star game reserve selection in January, until a season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo led to Lopez replacing the Boston Celtics guard on the Eastern Conference squad.
To add Dwightmare to insult, Lakers center Dwight Howard beat out Lopez for All-NBA third team center. San Antonio’s Tim Duncan and Memphis’ Marc Gasol took the first and second team spots, respectively. Brook finished first among players not on an All-NBA team, garnering 132 points and 7 first place votes from the 119 sportswriters and broadcasters that decide the selections. Though being the first among the losers feels like more of a slap in the face than not being voted for at all. Or maybe that’s just me being bitter.
But WHY is Brook a snub, you ask? For starters, statistics. If we look at overall performance stats, the picture is pretty clear. Lopez had the 5th best Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of ANY player in the league at 24.7, better than Tim Duncan (24.4) and every other center in the league. Don’t like PER? Try 82games Simple Rating: Lopez had the sixth best value in the league at +9.7, behind Duncan’s +10.7 but ahead of every other center. Want some more? Brook Lopez’s .181 Win Shares Per 48 Minutes are 13th best in the league, behind Gasol’s .187 but only fraction points behind Duncan’s .181 and perhaps more importantly for this discussion, well ahead of Dwight Howard’s .134.
Now’s where you chime in that statistics aren’t everything and that Dwight is a better rebounder/defender. Sure, statistics aren’t everything, but they are something, and it is hard to imagine that most of the 119 voters got to watch all the players being voted on consistently enough to not rely heavily on stats in their voting.
As for Dwight, Dwight IS a better rebounder and defender than Brook. Hell, Dwight IS a better player than Brook. When healthy, motivated and out of his approval-seeking head, Dwight Howard IS one of the top five basketball players on the planet; not sure about the universe if you include the Monstars, but I digress. Dwight, however, was not healthy and right of mind this season and Brook out played him. Remember, this is the All-NBA team from this season, not for any other season or for career achievement.
If you want to go the team’s performance/narrative route, Lopez wins there as well. The Nets went 49-33, four games better than Dwight’s 45-37 Lakers team. The Lakers were a newly constructed roster with a rash of injuries and a mid-season coaching change. The Nets didn’t have the injuries the Lakers had, but they were newly put together and did have the turmoil of a coaching change; in addition, Brooklyn’s best player, Deron Williams, played at a significantly reduced rate for half the season before joining the All-Plasma team at the All-Star break. Dwight did lose Kobe Bryant, but that was in the final five games of the season, and Kobe played well enough to earn First Team All-NBA honors, a quality of sidekick Brook never had.
Throughout an at-times chaotic first season in Brooklyn, Brook provided consistently excellent play and served as the team’s anchor. For this subjective reason, combined with the more empirical arguments of statistics, Brook Lopez deserved to be the Nets first All-NBA team selection since Jason Kidd in 2004.