NBA Free Agents 2011: Who Is Best Option to Pair with Brook Lopez for NJ Nets?

Jim MancariCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: Who Is Best Option to Pair with Brook Lopez for NJ Nets?

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    If there is an NBA season, it will be New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez’s fourth season.

    Though he sometimes has struggled with the mental side of the game, Lopez started coming in his own last season, averaging a career-best 20.4 points.

    He hasn’t missed a game in two full seasons as well.

    Lopez’s rebounding numbers were down last year, mostly because he floated on the perimeter due to his prowess for hitting the mid-range jumper. That facet of his game projects him as more of a power forward, despite his seven-foot frame.

    The Nets will seek to add another big man to pair with Lopez. It will almost resemble the days in San Antonio when Tim Duncan and David Robinson made up the team’s frontcourt.

    Naturally, Lopez and whoever the Nets acquire would have a lot to prove before being compared to Duncan and Robinson, but that would be the strategy.

    Here are four players the Nets may look to add in free agency to pair with Lopez.

4. David West

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    David West has been one of the unsung heroes in the NBA for the past several seasons.

    Playing in the shadow of Chris Paul with the New Orleans Hornets, West has quietly been a consistent offensive and defensive force.

    However, this March, West tore his left ACL after throwing down a dunk, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season.

    He opted out of the final year of his contract and is now a free agent, but injury speculation may cause teams to shy away.

    He would be a nice complement to Brook Lopez as a player who could crash the boards while Lopez drains outside shots.

    But is the risk worth the reward?

3. Nene

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    The past three seasons for Nene have been quite productive.

    He’s averaged close to a double-double per game each season, and has played with tons of energy and excitement.

    Nene is a bruiser down low who throws down monstrous dunks and rips rebounds away from opposing players.

    Brook Lopez has often been classified as rather soft, so feeding off Nene’s energy may be good for him.

    Based on his output, however, Nene may command a lucrative long-term deal. If the Nets someday want to make a play for Dwight Howard, trying to move a large contract may be difficult.

2. Kris Humphries

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    After seven seasons as a middling bench player, Kris Humphries put it all together last season.

    He was one of only a handful of NBA players to average a double-double per game (10 points, 10.4 rebounds per game). Keep in mind that he all didn’t start every game, which makes the task of recording a double-double that much more difficult.

    Humphries racked up on offensive and defensive rebounds on the glass while Brook Lopez was on the outside.

    His energy and fire on the court are unmatched by many players.

    Assuming his recent marriage to Kim Kardashian won’t be a distraction, Humphries is poised for another breakout season.

    He is currently a free agent, and since he doesn’t have the track record of players like David West and Nene, he may be the most affordable of the bunch.

1. Tyson Chandler

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    Tyson Chandler was an absolute beast last season for the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

    He would clean up on the glass, while Dirk Nowitzki would knock down outside shots.

    Now, Brook Lopez is nowhere even close to the shooter than Nowitzki is, but a similar situation can occur in New Jersey. Lopez won’t always be on the outside, but when he is, it’s nice to know he has the luxury of having a player like Chandler down low.

    Since he's arguably the best big man available via free agency, Chandler may come with a high price tag, however.

    He’s very athletic, and his style of play fits into many offensive schemes. Injuries have been an issue in the past, but he seems to be past any side effects.

    If the Nets can lure him, they’d have the makings of a “Big Three” in Chandler, Lopez and Deron Williams.

    It’s not exactly LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but it’s a start.

Conclusion

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    The best fit for Brook Lopez right now is Kris Humphries.

    He became a fan favorite in New Jersey, and could be one of the team’s centerpieces as it moves to Brooklyn for the start of the (hopefully) 2011-2012 season.

    He’s even developed a mid-range jumper to add to his game.

    Humphries, Lopez and Deron Williams seemed to enjoy an instant chemistry when they were all on the floor together.

    Signing Humphries to a three or four-year deal in a moderate price range would allow the Nets to pursue Dwight Howard. The team may have to fork up Lopez in a sign-and-trade type scenario.

    Hopefully, the “Incredible Hump” will be calling Newark home this season.