The Sports Unbiased NBA team discuss the latest Brook Lopez trade rumors of him joining Kevin Durant and Co. as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Could the acquisition of Lopez improve the Thunders’ depth at the center position? Could this be the missing piece to the puzzle? Jr. Williams, Sauping R. Arguello, and Bobby Bourhis round off today’s panel in our weekly NBA discussions.
Should the OKC Thunder pursue Brook Lopez? Does he make them a contender?
Bobby Bourhis: Oklahoma City is struggling mightily this season, in large part due to early season injuries from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. At 19-20 they are still several games back from the 8th seeded Phoenix Suns. Winning any less than 48 games in the western conference could mean that the Thunder would miss out on the playoffs entirely. In order for the Thunder to get 48 wins they are going to have to go 30-14 the rest of the way. That being said, acquiring Brook Lopez would certainly make the Thunder a better team offensively. Serge Ibaka‘s rim protecting interior defense would pair nicely with the offensive prowess and skill-set of Brook Lopez. Before we can start calling OKC a contender, we have to see whether they can even make the playoffs this season. Lopez would certainly give them a better shot.
Sauping R. Arguello: If you want a simple answer. NO. Oklahoma City has dug themselves in too deep of a hole this season due to early season injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They are currently in tenth place (19-20) tied with the New Orleans Pelicans (19-20), and trailing the Phoenix Suns (24-18) by five games for the eighth seed, and the San Antonio Spurs (24-16) by 5.5 games for the seventh seed. The current sixth seed, The Los Angeles Clippers (27-14) are several games ahead, which is just too much ground to cover for OKC with the time left in the season. The majority of the Thunder’s offense consists of isolation plays for Durant or Westbrook, who are finally getting back into the groove of things. The injuries will cost them a home court advantage series, or more, if they advance in a very competitive Western Conference.
Brook Lopez would give them a much needed interior offensive presence they can go into or run pick and roll with. Lopez has grown a reputation from shying away from physical play. His rebounding numbers (6.2 RPG) are also down compared to previous years. Most importantly, Lopez has been highly injury prone throughout his career which can pose as a huge red flag.
Reggie Jackson seems to be playing for a contract and a starting position. He is on the trade block and they must decide what they are going to do with him. He’s a player that needs the ball in his hands as well as new trade acquisition Dion Waiters. Again, too many isolation players and not enough team basketball/ ball movement. Their individual talent can get them into the playoffs but I just don’t see it as a recipe to be title contenders. Maybe if the entire roster were healthy and they had Lopez from the beginning of the season my answer would be different, but that’s not the case.
Jr. Williams: If healthy, Brook Lopez is a significant upgrade to the OKC interior offensive and defensive efforts. He brings a much needed ability to score inside and out, while his rebounding and ability to clog the middle will allow the Thunder better second chance shot opportunities. From a half-court offensive standpoint, he’s a significant improvement when compared to Kendrick Perkins (liability) or Steven Adams. I like this move and I think the Thunder organization should pull the trigger on this trade. Lopez brings with him 15 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 1.5 blkpg– double the scoring output of the entire OKC depth chart at the center position.