This year was supposed to be the breakout year for Brook Lopez. This year was supposed to be the season when Lopez solidified his status as one of the up and coming NBA big men. This was supposed to be the year when Lopez statistics increased across the board. The thing that Lopez appears to have a problem with are the boards themselves.
Lopez's third season has been a rebounding disappointment after averaging 8.1 and 8.6 rebounds per game in his first two season, respectively. So far Lopez is only averaging 5.6 rebounds per game.
So far Brook's rebounding has been gradually decreasing from month to month. What can Lopez do to improve his rebounding?
Maybe a history lesson is in order.
Brook Lopez doesn't have to look far to actually find an example of great rebounding.
Timberwolves' Kevin Love isn't an all time great yet, but he's averaging league leading, and staggering, 15.6 rebounds per game. Lopez could certainly learn from Love's all out hustle that not only reaps in rebounds, but also allows him to put up 21.4 points per game.
For most of his career Shaquille O'Neal has been a dominant force on the offensive end. For a player with O'Neals offensive abilities rebounding often takes a backseat to the things that put fans in the stands, such as rim-breaking slam dunk.
Shaq's career is winding down and while he will go down as one of the most dominant big men in the NBA, the thing that will remain quite is his place on the all-time rebounds list.
Something that Brook Lopez could learn from O'Neal is that scoring will get you on the front page or Sports Center, but it is the small things, the intangibles, that win games. No matter how many points Brook scores, small things such as rebounds are the key to winning.
How many championship rings would've won if he averaged five rebounds per game?
Tim Duncan is sometimes affectionately called "Timmy," but we shouldn't forget that Duncan is the "Big Fundamental."
If there is one thing that Brook can do is brush up on his fundamentals.
In November Lopez averaged 6.1 rebound per game, but it appears that as the season wore on Lopez completely forgot the basics of rebounding and for January his rebounding slipped to 4.5 rebounds per game.
It's all about basics. It's all about fundamentals.
Dennis Rodman is the epitome of a rebounding genius.
If rebounding is about knowing when and where a rebound was going to go then nobody did it better than "The Worm."
If rebounding was a skill then Rodman made it an art.
If there is something that Rodman could teach Brook Lopez then that would be passion. Rodman went after each and every rebound as if it would've been his last. With Brook there is no passion, without passion there is no drive and without drive there is no success. Rodman's five championship rings could teach Lopez much about success.
Moses Malone was a rebounding machine during his NBA/ABA playing days.
13.0 rebounds per game.*
Given that a lot of his offensive rebounds came as a result of his own missed shots, I wouldn't recommend for Brook Lopez to start missing his own shots on purpose. However, it wouldn't hurt for Lopez to take some of Malone's spunk and tenacity around the glass.
If there was a player that competed with Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell under the boards then that player was Bob Pettit.
In 1958 Pettit led the Hawks to the NBA Championship, in the process defeating the Boston Celtics and becoming one of the few teams to beat the Celtics in the finals during the 1950's and 60's.
Pettit's accolades include a 20-rebound season and a career rebounding average of more then 16 per game.
At 6"7' Wes Unseld is the shortest player on NBA's Top 15 rebounding list.
With a career average of 14 rebounds per game Unseld is the epitome of height not being the requirement for rebounding prowess. Brook Lopez could learn that while height is a great tool for rebounding, but it is still the heart and drive that gets that rebound in the end.
A honorable mention goes to Charles Barkley for being a player that played larger than his height.
Nate Thurmond was a hard nosed rebounder in the age when players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kereem Abdul-Jabbar patrolled the paint.
With a career average of 15 rebounds per game, Thurmond excelled playing against top notch competition almost on nightly basis. Lopez should remember that Thurmond played players such as Chamberlain, Russell and Abdul-Jabbar almost every game because the league hadn't expanded to 30 teams back then. How would Lopez fare playing against Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard or Kevin Garnett once a week?
"You can't size," that's how the saying goes.
The 7'1" Wilt Chamberlain is NBA's all-time leading rebounded with 23,924 boards. One thing that was certainly working for him throughout his career was his length. Brook Lopez has to realize that his height, 7'0", is an asset and that he has to use it to his advantage.
It seems that Lopez forgot that he's taller than most of his opponents and that is a plus, not a negative.
Brook Lopez should look to Bill Russell not just for his defensive prowess, but also for the way that Russell effected the game with his defense.
Although blocks haven't been kept until 1973-74 season, but it's probably safe to say that Bill Russell would have been among the all-time NBA leaders in block. If only Lopez could combine that instinctual shot blocking drive with rebounding then Brook would become a beast.