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The Problems of Brook Lopez: The Eyeball and the Stat-Sheet

Plenty people have discussed the fact that Brook Lopez is struggling, and how he's been struggling, but there's been very little discussion as to why Brook is struggling.

It suddenly became clear to me the last Nets game I attended.  It was the December 27th game against the new look Orlando.  I commented to my friend "Man, Brook Lopez sure handles the ball a lot out by the 3 point line for a center."  

We did some digging on our cell phones and we found something really interesting about his shot selection on 82games.com

Brook Lopez:

2008-2009 Jump Shot %: 39%

2009-2010 Jump Shot %: 42%

2010-2011 Jump Shot %: 59%

Wow.  Though this big jump is far from being definitive proof of anything by itself, it can be instructive while watching the game.  A jump shot is generally the least effective method of scoring points.  This is especially true for centers.

Watch some games closely and notice that Brook Lopez is spending less and less time banging it out underneath the basket.  He's making entries into the low post later and later while finishing fewer of his shots by the rim.  Could playing less time near the rim affect his rebounding percentage?  Sure.

My friend made the next revealing comment to me while I was obsessing over Derrick Favors's defense, "Why is Brook Lopez getting pushed around by Ryan Anderson?"

Low and behold, I notice Brook struggling to bump with Ryan Anderson under the basket.  This was baffling to watch.

So to review:

1) Is Brook Lopez spending less time near the rim on the offensive and defensive end?

The evidence and the "eyeball test" support this.

2) Is spending less time near the rim a strong reason why Brook Lopez might be struggling this year?

Only if Brook Lopez is a center.

3) Why is Brook Lopez spending less time near the rim?

We could speculate endlessly because there is a limitless number of reasons.  Maybe Avery Johnson is trying to use him in a new way this year.  Maybe Brook is having a lingering health problem that makes the grueling work of banging underneath the basket especially unappetizing.  Maybe it's a technique lapse.  Maybe it's working with new teammates.  Maybe it's mental.  It could be a combination of things.  This is one question that our eyeballs and stat-sheets can't answer.

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