Brook Lopez: The Nets Only Hope

David GlazerCorrespondent INovember 10, 2009

NEW YORK - MARCH 18: Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets shoots over Wilson Chandler #21 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden March 18, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

There comes a time in every sports franchise's life when they finally find a player to build around. 

For the Nets, it is Brook Lopez.

In basketball, the hardest position to find is center.  A true back to the basket center that can score block shots and rebound is a truly rare thing. Lopez has shown that he has the raw ability to become an All-Star in the NBA, and maybe more.

Right now, the Nets are going to lose a lot of games.  Four out of their five starters are hurt.  Lopez is the last starter standing. So, he does not have much help.  Even with all of that, he managed to put up 23 points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots against the Boston Celtics

For the season, he is averaging 18 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.  Those are excellent numbers for a second year player.

What makes Lopez so promising is that he brings a lot of athleticism and skill to the position. Center is one of the most difficult position to play well because you rarely face the basket on offense. The great centers have the strength of a bull and the footwork of a ballet dancer. 

Lopez is not there yet; however, he is rapidly improving.

Last year, he rarely took jump shots of more than 15 feet and certainly did not hit a high percentage.  Against the Celtics, he made 10 shots and almost all of them were jump shots greater than 15 feet.  His ability to make the jump shot will only enhance his ability to score.

What is most promising is his development of low post moves.  Lopez has developed a very nice fake and shoot move in the post.  He basically makes a quarter turn over his left shoulder and shows the ball at shoulder height.  This causes the defender to drop his eye level and usually his arms. 

Lopez then leans into the defender while raising the ball quickly to his highest reach and makes a quick shot.  He has shown the ability to make this shot from 10-12 feet.  When defended one on one, this is an extremely effective move.

What is best about his post game is that almost all of his moves are designed to go towrd the basket.  This is important because it means that he is likely to draw a foul or get in position for a quality shot.  It also makes it easier to get an offensive rebound.

Lopez still needs more work though.  He needs to develop a go to move while turning over his right shoulder.  Eventually, defenders will just overplay him and force him to make a move over the right shoulder.  Once he learns an effective counter move for his right shoulder, he will become a consistent 20 points per game scorer.

Lopez has only two other holes in his game and both are eminently fixable. 

First, he needs to improve his rebounding.  He is the Nets best rebounder.  He needs to get his rebounding numbers up to over nine, and preferably over 10 per game.  To do this, he merely needs to focus more on boxing out on defensive rebounds and going after every ball.  Until he manages that, he will still be below an elite level.

Secondly, he needs to learn how to read the double teams better and create easy shots for his teammates.  In his defense, he is only now beginning to see consistent doubles.  They are opportunities to create shots.  Once he learns how to make opponents pay for doubling him in the post, the sooner he becomes an All-Star.  This step can only come from game experience.

Until the Nets get healthy, Nets fans can enjoy watching this budding star develop.


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