With the first installment of the S.U. Main Attractions series, Sports Unbiased highlights Brooklyn Nets All-Star Center, Brook Lopez.
Brook Lopez is arguably one of the most underrated players in the league at the center position. He usually ranks among the top-10 centers on many lists, his defense is shaky at times but his offensive arsenal is among the best of any center in the league. Honestly, without Brook Lopez posing his will under the basket and within the perimeter, the Nets would be nothing more than 30+ win team sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
How has Lopez improved his game since entering the NBA on 2009? He and twin brother Robin Lopez spent one week of basketball training with NBA great and 2-time champion Hakeem Olajuwon. Over the past few seasons “Hakeem the Dream” has been the go to guy for top NBA superstars Lebron James and Dwight Howard, just to name a few. Olajuwon was one of the most multi-talented centers in the NBA during his time in the league. His footwork was impeccable. For a player his size, Olajuwon possessed excellent ball handling skills, he could shoot the mid-range jumper, and score in the paint better than any center in the league when he was at his prime. Hakeem is the perfect basketball skills trainer for a player like Brook Lopez.
From an offensive standpoint Brook Lopez certainly found more to gain from his workout sessions with Olajuwon. I definitely respect any player who strives to excel their game, unfortunately Olajuwon can’t teach defense, an area in which Lopez is lacking. On a positive note, Kevin Garnett is now a member of the team and I am sure his intensive dedication to defense is sure to rub off on Lopez. If Lopez can learn to balance his offensive and defensive levels, he has the potential to be the best player in the game at his position.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Brook Lopez is arguably the best offensively-sound center in the league. He can post, shoot the short jumper, and he is an excellent free throw shooter for a player his size. According to Shaquille O’Neal, Brook Lopez is the best center in the NBA this year. While I won’t disagree from an offensive standpoint, Lopez has to improve his offensive and defensive rebounding areas of his game. Again, I expect veteran teammate Kevin Garnett to help school the youngster on how to step up his defensive game. Lopez is an intelligent player and I am sure he’ll figure it out.
Right now Brook Lopez is the best player on the court for the Brooklyn Nets; he has been a nightmare for opposing centers and he isn’t exactly the guy you want to send to the foul line. Unlike Dwight Howard, Lopez is a career .787 free throw shooter which means he’s a player you can rely on to make shots in close games to put his team in a better position to win. Howard is more of a liability during close games in the fourth quarter because he will more than likely be the target for intentional fouling due to his horrific free throw shooting. I’d take my chances with Lopez any day of the week.
Overall Skill and Rank
NBA Rank (Among all Centers): 1
2013-2014 NBA Season Outlook
I expect Lopez to finish 1st among all NBA centers in scoring this season, be the starting center for the NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team, and he will help lead the Brooklyn Nets towards clinching the first or second playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.