10. Brook Lopez: A glimpse of what could have been
You know those guys that bash on Brook Lopez as a big man you can’t win basketball games with? Show them this video. Even still not 100%, Brook dropped 38 points on a playoff team in the West. Yes, the defending champions are minus Tyson Chandler, but they’re not throwing DeSagana Diop out there. He scored out of the post and in the pick-and-roll. He made quick moves, exploiting mismatches and barreling through contact. He scored in transition at the rim and hit jumpers. He contorted his body while maintaining control of it, displaying his soft touch around the basket. This video doesn’t show the game-winning free throws, but he hit those, too.
This video is a snapshot of a season in an alternate universe, one where Brook didn’t get injured, Deron Williams became accustomed to playing next to one of the best offensive centers in the league, the two became a terror in the two-man game and the pick-and-roll, Deron’s lightened scoring load meant a less surly Deron Williams and a Nets team fighting for a playoff spot. Maybe a Dwight Howard trade still doesn’t go down, but we’re okay with that — for now — since Brook’s averaging 25 points per game due to the easy shots getting created for him.
Here’s a list of centers that have scored 38 points in a game since Brook Lopez entered the league: Dwight Howard (7 times), Brook Lopez (twice), Andrew Bynum (once), Shaquille O’Neal (once). Yes, he’s not a phenomenal defender or rebounder, but we haven’t seen a 100% Brook Lopez in over two years. I’m hoping, hoping, hoping that one day, we will. And that he’ll look a little like this.