Well, he could jump for the ball. That usually helps.
All kidding aside, Brook Lopez's decline as a rebounder is surprising. Way back in 2009-2010, Lopez averaged 8.7 boards per contest. Granted, this wasn't an astounding figure for a center, but it also wasn't embarrassing. The next season, that rebound total fell all the way to 5.9.
While you can credit Ex-Mr. Kardashian for stealing a lot of those available boards, much of the decline was about Lopez's play. In a New York Post interview with Fred Kerber, he attributed the poor board numbers to "being lazy." Lopez even went on to say, “It’s just been a constant focus daily. And it does help keeping those rebound attempts."
I am usually the last person to cast the blame with an athlete's effort level. I cannot presume to know what players are thinking, or how hard they are trying out there. But in the case of Lopez, after watching game film of his past two seasons, I don't know what else to say. It just looks like he's not engaged as a rebounder.
There are functional problems with Lopez's approach, though. On many airborne shots, Lopez can be spotted with his arms below the waist. Such flaws are especially glaring when Kris Humphries is on the court, rebounding with tenacity.
The viewer can watch Humphries shedding opponents like an NFL pass-rusher when the shot flies as Lopez stands and watches. Kris will often extend out and back tap boards to his teammates, a tendency that Lopez rarely exhibits.
Subjectively, it appears that Brook Lopez gives up on rebounds. If he isn't directly next to the rim, Lopez can often turn his back and begin the trudge toward the other hoop. This reflects Lopez's honest "being lazy" assessment. I appreciate the Brooklyn center's candor, but his actions confuse me.
In theory, rebounds augment a big man's reputation and help him nab a larger contract. Then again, Brooklyn just maxed him out, so a hearty "well played" to Lopez.
The good news for Nets fans is that the more active center might be lurking within. Lopez has been surrounded by a bad, directionless team for some time. Perhaps the new Brooklyn era will re-energize a once-promising player. He showed a flash or two in his injury-limited season:
So will the real Brook Lopez please grab a rebound? The Dwight Howard trade ship may have sailed, but there's still time for Lopez to reclaim his career as a focal franchise piece.
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