2012-2013 Stats: 74 GP, 30.4 MPG, 19.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.4 SPG, 2.1 BPG, 52.1 FG%, 75.8 FT%
2012-2013 Advanced: 56.7 TS%, 52.1 eFG%, 24.7 PER, 114 ORtg, 105 DRtg, 9.0 WS
All-Star Team? Yes
Team: 49-33, lost in first round to Chicago Bulls (4-3)
Lopez is the team’s longest-tenured Nets player at this point by a long shot: Deron Williams is the only other to sniff new jerseys in New Jersey that said “New Jersey.”
(Actually, that’s a lie; D-Will only wore Nets jerseys that said “Nets” on them in his tenure. They’d struck “New Jersey” from the jerseys by that point because they were trying to distance themselves from the swamp stench as much as possible. But I digress.)
We’re a little stuck in recency bias because we’ve seen Lopez play up until about two months ago, and know every little detail about his game, whereas the best of Billy Paultz and Mike Gminski get lost in the sands of a pre-YouTube time. But that doesn’t take away from the incredible skills Lopez brought to each game: the way he dropped in floaters and dunks with ease, how he was able to create his own shot and find spaces in the lane for Deron Williams to hit him with easy passes.
Lopez was the team’s best player on their best regular season team since the Jason Kidd era, the most proficient offensive center in the team’s history, a player with unparalleled touch in the paint and the underlying mean streak strong enough to make him posterize his younger brother.
He was also, at times, painfully human, well aware that basketball did not define his life. When asked what he thought about the cross-town rival New York Knicks, he laughed and said, “I’m probably the wrong guy to ask about watching basketball.” He showed more interest in comics than centers. He started an Instagram account for his cat and hung out with Bill Clinton. He was part mean-streak center and basketball player, but at heart, a goofy big kid, who maximized his genetic gift without losing sense of self outside of sport.
But if a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video of Brook Lopez’s top 10 plays from last season pens an epic of rim-rattling and misdirection. Enjoy. Then go vote.