Brook Lopez has been an anchor in the paint for the Nets this season, to say the least. His presence on the defensive side of the ball has been nothing short of, well, improved, as is evident with his career-best 2.5 blocks per game.
The secret to his success, however, has nothing to do with any improved athleticism or some sort of new-found technique. In fact, according to Lopez, it has everything to do with in-game recognition, and being where he needs to be, when he needs to be there.
"It's just been a matter for me of really getting better at positional defense -- not necessarily anything super athletic, but just realizing where I need to be in relation to where the ball's at."
That easy, huh?
Lopez, in speaking to ESPNNewYork.com, during and event at his youth camp on Sunday, also spoke of his early in-game success and how he's been able to come out strong in the first quarter of games.
"I think it's just a matter of really coming out to the game and being ready, being warmed up, and that's something I tried to emphasize today. I always try to tell these kids, 'Come out, really be on the ball, be ready to learn and come with energy.'"
For Lopez, though, while he's speaking to an improved mental game, Nets fans have held their collective breath in hopes that his physical game -- namely, his most recent injury; a sprained foot -- won't hold him back much longer.
The good news is, it seems as if Avery Johnson is almost ready to unleash him, starting tomorrow night, to the tune of 24-plus minutes.
Brook Lopez went thru full practice today. Might still have a minutes limit Tues, but will play more than 24 mins, Avery Johnson said.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) December 17, 2012