The New Jersey Nets should trade Brook Lopez while his value around the league is high. This may sound like blasphemy to Nets fans celebrating the acquisition of Deron Williams, but, if you consider what Lopez is and is not, it might make good sense in the short and long term.
The Nets have a very long road to travel before they will be capable of winning a conference semifinal series, so the thought of trading assets for talent and composition should be on the table.
The trade of Devin Harris and Derrick Favors (along with a draft pick) for Williams is a great example of what potential can buy in the NBA. Even though I think New Jersey gave up too much in the trade by sending the pick, it was probably the right move for the organization.
Brook Lopez is 7'0”, 265 pounds and has proven he can play in the NBA. His basic stat line is as follows:
This year's draft has very little to offer in the way of centers. This increases his value around the league, and there are teams that would jump before looking on the opportunity to get any big this year.
The next few slides contain my case.
As rebounders go, Brook Lopez leaves a great deal to be desired. Lopez averages 6.0 Rebounds per game and plays 35.2 Minutes. That is horrible for a center and a lot worse than it may seem at first glance.
Lopes gets his team ONE rebound for every SIX minutes he is on the court.
There are two other guys with “L's” in their names that come to mind that get more rebounds than Lopez on a nightly basis: Landry Fields gets 6.8 RPG and LeBron James gets 7.5 RPG. They are a guard and a small forward.
When you examine the Rebounds per 48 minutes (RP48), it get worse. With an 8.2 RP48, Lopez ranks 80th in the league, which places him behind Chase Budinger, Evan Turner and Joel Anthony among others.
And, when compared on an RP48 basis to other centers, Lopez is Ranked 28th, with only Andrea Bargnani of Toronto behind him.
Tim Duncan is old and has an RP48 of 15.2, meaning he rebounds at almost twice the rate of Lopez.
I have heard the argument that his rebounding is down because Kris Humphries is rebounding so well, but it is does little to change my position on his work ethic on the boards.
Lopez's production on the boards is down by 30 percent, and he is on a team that is middle of the road in terms of rebounding.
Kevin Love is the only rebounder of consequence on Minnesota and his team is ranked near the top of the category. This is partially because Minnesota has an abysmal field-goal percentage, but New Jersey is right at the bottom of field-goal percentage as well.
I guarantee there are opportunities for Lopez to grab more boards if he wants them (and he does not want to). Brook Lopez is a has weak rebounding statistics, because he is a weak rebounder. It's that simple.
The best part of Brook's game is his offense. He scores about 20 points a game, which is third among centers. The problem is that he is a finesse scorer and is probably never going to be a dominant big.
If you offered Lopez to Los Angeles for Andrew Bynum, the Lakers would laugh at you because Bynum is a better center and puts the ball in the basket around the rim at a rate 57 percent. Sure, he only scores 12 points a game, but he only plays 24 minutes and is usually the third option on offense.
And, that's where you start to see why Lopez looks better than he is, because his team is so bad. Normally, good big men see improvement in their field-goal percentage in the first few years they are in the league.
Lopez has seen his field-goal percentage decline each of his three years in the league. He is not getting any better on the offensive end and has, most likely, peaked.
Lopez shoots 48.4 percent from the field, while this would be great for a guard or small forward, this is uninspiring for a 7-footer who does not take any 3-pointers.
Shooting 48 percent as a center is like shooting 43 percent as a guard or small forward. There are a lot of guys that can do that for you around the league and quite a few of the forwards would get more rebounds in the process.
On an elite team (which is what New Jersey wants to be), Lopez would be come a third option on offense, because he as far as centers go, he is really a volume scorer.
Centers on good teams need to be highly efficient in order to be effective in the playoffs. Decades of evidence support this.
Since he is a miserable rebounder, he will have less value as his shot attempts and scoring goes down. The better the team gets, the less value he will have.
Additionally, as his shot attempts have gone up but his trips to the free throw line have not, he's not the kind of big man who really puts pressure on the opposing front line.
New Jersey would be wise to give strong consideration to moving Lopez prior to next year's trade deadline, if Lopez continues to capture fewer than 9.5 rebounds a game.
He will still have good value around the league and, most likely, will be overrated by many teams. New Jersey could get more than he is worth in the form of wing players, picks, and a simple rebounding big man.