Why Brook Lopez Will Be the Key to Brooklyn Nets' Postseason Success

Andrew KippContributor IIApril 11, 2013

Brook Lopez ranks fourth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating.
Brook Lopez ranks fourth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The play of center Brook Lopez will be crucial to the Brooklyn Nets’ postseason success.

Lopez has been the Nets most consistent player all season. He’s averaging a team-high 19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and a team-high 2.1 blocks.

Statistically, Lopez is having the best season of any center in the Eastern Conference. He averages more points than Roy Hibbert, more blocks than Al Horford and more rebounds than Chris Bosh. His 19.4 points per game is the best in the NBA among centers.

The 25-year-old was selected to his first All-Star Game this year. He’ll look to continue his stellar play in his first career playoffs.

Brooklyn is big at every position, and this could be its biggest advantage in the postseason.

Nobody on the Nets is bigger than Lopez. The seven-footer will be a mismatch for teams like the Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics that lack size in the frontcourt.

The former first-round pick out of Stanford has taken his offensive game to new heights in 2012-13. His 19.4 points per game is 1.5 points above his career average.

Brooklyn is 23-11 when Lopez scores at least 20 points. When he doesn’t score 20 points, the Nets record is 23-21.

The Nets’ big man is averaging 21.6 points over his last 10 games. Brooklyn averages 1.09 points per offensive possession when he’s on the floor (via 82games.com).

Lopez is quietly confident, technically sound and brutally efficient. He’s got a knack for finding space in the paint to make quick and easy baskets.

He’s also been very effective in the pick-and-roll this season with Deron Williams running the offense. Lopez’s exceptional shooting range along with his size and strength allow him to pick and pop or take defenders to the rim off the pick-and-roll.

Lopez will need to carry a large portion of the scoring load if the Nets match up with the Knicks or the Heat in the playoffs. It’s asking a lot of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to match the scoring production of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith or LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

The Nets rely on Reggie Evans to do the majority of the dirty work under the rim. Evans averages 11 boards and leads the NBA in rebound rate (ESPN.com).

The Nets don’t need Lopez on the glass, but when does hit the boards, the Nets usually do well. Brooklyn is 9-4 when he’s grabbed at least 10 rebounds.

The Nets just need their All-Star center to be active around the rim. Adding 10-15 pounds of muscle in the offseason has allowed Lopez to dominate the paint in other ways.

Whether it’s boxing out defenders, blocking shots or tipping home second-chance opportunities, he provides a game-changing presence for Brooklyn.

The All-Star center ranks fourth in the NBA for PER (Player Efficiency Rating) behind Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

PER is used to analyze a player’s per-minute productivity. It takes into account field goals, free throws, three-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals.

Lopez has stuffed the stat sheet on more than a few occasions this year.

He lit up the Knicks on Nov. 26 to the tune of 22 points, 11 boards and 5 blocks. This is the type of all-around performance he must have in the postseason for the Nets to achieve success against top-level competition.

Lopez, along with Deron Williams, has been Brooklyn’s most productive player this season. He will need to continue this high-rate of production for the Nets to make a deep postseason run.



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