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Why Brook Lopez Is the Key to Brooklyn Nets' Title Hopes

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Why Brook Lopez Is the Key to Brooklyn Nets' Title Hopes
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Brook Lopez is one of the league's best scoring big men.

Size has always been the key to winning a championship.

A versatile center that can dominate both ends of the floor usually keeps his team in title contention, and the Brooklyn Nets, have one of the NBA's most talented 5's in Brook Lopez.

Last season, Lopez led Brooklyn in scoring, averaging 19.4 points on 52.1 percent shooting from the field. He also blocked 2.1 shots per game and has amassed 568 blocks during his five years with the organization, enough to rank him fourth in franchise history. 

In today's NBA, where dominant big men have become scarce, Lopez offers Brooklyn the kind of reliable weapon you need in order to succeed amid the rigors and pressures of playoff basketball.  

 

Consistent Scoring Threat

At 25 years old, Lopez has proven to be a dependable option on offense. He has the ability to score off the pick-and-roll, and when in the post, he consistently utilizes his bank shot and jump hook. 

The motor he displays in the low block, the way he constantly moves to establish and reestablish position, is part of the reason why he is a dominant scorer.

As noted by Matt Moore of CBS Sports, Lopez is "...not just plopping into the post and waiting. He'll move from position to position, screen to post to flare back to screen."

That constant motion, coupled with timely reads by Lopez, as seen below, does enough to manipulate the defense and put the big man where can make his move. 

Brook Lopez fighting for position.

This kind of creativity on the court allows him to score despite the caliber of defenders present.

Throughout the Nets' seven-game series with the Chicago Bulls in last year's playoffs, Lopez elevated his performance. He averaged 22.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks against a Bulls team that—in the regular season—gave up the third-fewest points per game in the NBA (92.9). 

Having an interior threat like Lopez, who can also protect the rim on the defensive end of the court, could facilitate a deep playoff run for Brooklyn this year. 

 

Shot-Blocking Prowess

A big man capable of altering shots and anchoring the middle can lead his ball club a long way, and Lopez had the seventh most blocks in the NBA last season with 154. 

With the number of gifted centers presently roaming Eastern Conference—think Roy Hibbert, Chris Bosh, Andrew Bynum and up-and-comers like Jonas Valanciunas and Andre Drummond—Brooklyn is fortunate to have Lopez, a 5 who can score and hold his own defensively against any of the aforementioned big men.

Although his on-ball defense still has room for growth, Lopez has nonetheless improved noticeably in that area since entering the league. He no longer is the defensive liability that people once labeled him.

The addition of Kevin Garnett will not only provide Lopez with the knowledge needed to become a better defender, but the former Celtic's presence will also allow Lopez to be a bigger force as a weak-side shot-blocker.

For the Nets to convert their championship dreams into reality, they'll need Lopez swatting shots and keeping opponents out of the paint.

 

Pillar in the Paint 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Big men like Lopez change games.

A 7-footer like Brook Lopez gives the Nets the size necessary to compete with the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, and it provides Brooklyn with the advantage over smaller teams, such as the Miami Heat

Although Miami recently signed Greg Oden to offset some of its vulnerability on the inside, Oden's injury history makes his ability to contribute on a consistent basis far from a certainty. If Oden's not on the floor, the Heat then would be susceptible to the mismatches and abuse a center like Lopez could impose. 

Lopez is an intelligent and efficient scorer, and his presence in the low post commands attention. The old adage of playing inside-out exists because of its validity: Feasting in the paint opens up the perimeter. Lopez's abilities both to score and pass will allow Brooklyn to effectively spread the floor and will create easier shooting and driving opportunities for the Nets' other offensive weapons.

The veteran center provides the Nets with reliable offense and solid defense—and does so at a position that as much as any impacts a team's regular-season and postseason success.

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