Amazingly, it appears that the other Lopez, Robin, also took a BIG step backward this year, very similar to Brook Lopez. With the excerpt story below, you can just plug in Brook's name instead of Robin and the story is still accurate. Since Robin did not have Mono as well, based on public reports, one has to wonder why the Lopez twins' game digress in all facets of a big man's game after both showing hints of tremendous potential in previous seasons.
The big fella’s uneven play this season has failed to impress his head coach, Gentry tells the AZ Republic: "Lopez averaged 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game last season and is playing and producing less this season, getting 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds entering Tuesday night. His shooting percentage dipped from 59 percent to 51 percent, but that is because he has taken more mid-range shots, an area of improvement in his game. ‘That’s probably been the biggest mystery for our team,’ coach Alvin Gentry said when asked why Lopez’s progression has stopped. ‘In actuality, we really thought that he would probably be the second-most-important guy on our team, especially if he took a big leap. I’m not real sure if it’s the injury or what, but he hasn't been able to give us the consistent play that we thought we’d be able to get from him. We could use it. It’s something that has hurt us a bit. We haven’t really had much inside play. Gortat gives us some. Other than that, we’ve been pretty much resigned to the fact that we’re a perimeter team. That hurts you when you’re going to rely on jump shots night in and night out, even as good of a shooting team as we are.’"
The Lopez twins need to emphatically change and improve their off-season program for on and off the court. It starts with the Conditioning/Strengthening department. At least Brook had the Mono excuse for the lack of improvement in this dept. last off-season. But, notwithstanding, there is much room for improvement that MUST happen this summer. Others have suggested may be Brook needs to do some MMA training with Humphries and I am sure Kim K can hook him up with one of her "mono-free" sisters as an incentive. I think this will not only improve his physical attributes but also the aggression which is sorely lacking in his game. Furthermore, Brook needs to continue to improve on agility, foot speed, and defensive techniques. Too often he is caught flat footed and either small guys will easily score on him or gets an "and 1". This should not happen to a big 7-Footer, opponents should be having second thoughts about driving in the lane.
There is still a lot of room for his offensive post game as well, which will naturally improve with increased strength/bulk to allow him to post closer to the basket and not get pushed off by a Small Forwards like Illyasova. Lastly, Brook needs more of a go to move in his arsenal similar to the game winner he did the other day I think against Toronto with the up and under a la Dream Shake move.
Nets need to hire the best "Tim Grover" type of Strength/Condition coach and a better big man post skills coach like the Newell big man camp back in the days. To summarize, Brook's exit interview should be simple (in an Avery Johnson tone) ".....Brook you have the most important off season coming up to your development personally and for the organization. Whatever you did last summer do something different and hang out as much as possible on/off the court with Humphries and Deron William this summer even if you have to babysit little Desmond once in awhile."
Brook's improvement is CRUCIAL to the development of this Nets team. I think it is even more important than any potential free agent pick up and obviously draft pick. If Brook can establish himself as a true second option that dictates a double team and becomes a consistent force on defense and cleans up the glass at least 10 a game than this will have several positive effects: 1- D William more sooner than later signs extension, 2-improve performance overall of the team cause we can truly play an effective inside out game which will open up better opportunies for Morrow and our newly acquired wing guys to excel; and 3- our defense can truly become consistent and make stops when needed and our wings can be more aggressive for steals and defending the perimeter with Lopez providing better help defense in the post; and lastly, if needed, better trade bait to obtain Dwight Howard. Realistically, it may come down to who Orlando would want back in a trade Lopez or Bynum. I would pick Lopez as of right now but not by a wide margin and more because of injury/knee issues with Bynum. Bynum is just as long, young, better defense and potential to improve offense as well.
However, it is not all criticism, as Lopez is still one of the best scoring big man, most durable and we tend to forget one of the youngest with many years before his prime. Lopez's durability is truly an understated point when assessing his true value to our team. At least we can count on putting him out there every single night, unlike a player like D James.