This offseason is going to be an exciting one for the New Jersey Nets, but before we can move forward we must look back. Over the next couple of days, I am going to be looking at the Nets who will (most likely) be back, and review their year, from what they did well to what they didn’t. We are going to be starting with the Nets MVP, Brook Lopez.
This is going to be a pretty lengthy list, but let’s start with something that doesn’t really get mentioned when you talk about Brook Lopez and his game. His mobility. Now Brook doesn’t have the lateral quickness of a Dwight Howard or a Andrew Bogut, but when it comes to running up and down the court, I’d take Brook out of any center in the league. He is so good at just putting his head down, running to the paint, finding the ballhandler, and finishing:
Now, rewatch that again, and look for Spencer Hawes, the man responsible for covering Brook. As Brook is busting it down the court, Hawes is one of the last men down.
Brook really runs with a purpose, and that purpose is to find the open spot.
Here, it looks like Brook is running to go post up, however, he sees a crease in the middle of the lane, finds it, and makes himself available for the pass. It’s not just off of the ball either, Brook can get the rebound, find an outlet, and the bust it down the court:
In The Post
Brook Lopez’s game really took a leap in this, his second year. I know he still looks raw at times, but he is looking more and more polished as the year went on. Brook now has the ability to turn both in the middle and along the baseline to finish (he added a real nice baseline spin/hook). However, his go to move is his turn to the middle, where he uses his height to his advantage:
As long as Brook is able to get himself into the paint, he is going to be able to shoot over people. This is because on most nights, he is going to be the tallest player on the court. Let’s take a look at one more:
If there was one good thing that came from this year and the lack of offense, it is that Brook Lopez saw a ridiculous number of double teams this year. So Brook Lopez basically got a crash course in how to handle a double team. In the video above, look at the subtle little backstep Brook took when the double came. The swipe from the double missed because of this step back, and Brook is able to make his move.
Now, this is where I was most impressed with Brook Lopez this year, and again it was because of the absurd number of double teams Brook got.
This bounce pass from Brook gets him in trouble from time to time, but Brook has been really good at it this year, and whenever Brook makes a catch he draws attention from defenders. That leaves lanes open for cutters, and the Nets were pretty good at taking advantage.
Again, Brook is able to survey the scene, and as soon as the double comes, he makes a crisp pass out to Courtney Lee.
It wasn’t all good for Brook though, there were some negatives.
With a lot going wrong for the Nets this year, Brook had a hard time keeping his emotion in check. He often showed his displeasure with the refs, with his teammates, and with himself in a pretty obvious way. Brook often showed his disgust, and I think this really hurt him in terms of getting calls towards the end of the year. Now, I am willing to give Brook a pass on this year. Brook has never really showed this kind of poor body language in past years, so maybe it was just the burden of avoiding history that caused it. This next year is going to be a pretty big test for him. If he can keep his emotion in check, he is going to do wonders to prove that this past year was just a special situation.
Something Brook really struggled with (especially against bigger centers) was his positioning down low. Now, when he gets the ball right on the block, he is really tough to stop. However, there are times when he doesn’t get the ball, Brook just kind of gives up his position and he fades to the outside (right around the 20 foot area). Now, when he makes this catch, one of two things happens. He tries to make his post up move too far away from the basket (and this leads to a turnover/miss/offensive foul), or he settles for the jumper. Brook is a pretty good outside shooter for a big man, but he took way too many of them this year. Again, hopefully this is something that can be corrected when he has better teammates around him, and allowing for less attention to go Brook’s way.