FanPost

Going Forward: Brook Lopez

During the playoffs, we've been reviewing the 2011-2012 seasons of certain Net players. This one's gonna be a little bit different. Who's up today?

Brook-lopez

Photo from Golden State of Mind

Take the jump & we'll look at Brook Lopez.

A look back:

Because Brook only played five games in the 2011-2012 season, it's not fair to use that to judge him (along with concerns about SSS too). And because we're taking a look back, let's head back to Brook's last healthy* season, 2010-2011.

2010-2011

Games Played

Minutes per Game

True Shooting %

Rebound Rate

Usage rate

PER

Win Shares per 48

Wins Produced per 48

Brook Lopez

82 35.2 54.9 10 27.33 19.28 .105 -.002

League Average Center

63 28 55.3 15.8 17.88 15 .100 .099

* Keep in mind, Brook Lopez spent a good amount of time dealing with the after effects of mononucleosis.

Prior to this season where he missed all but 5 games due to injury, Brook played every game and played a good amount of minutes. As to the quality of the minutes, here's where we start our journey.

Brook certainly gets his touches. When looking at Centers, Brook had the second highest usage rate, slightly behind Toronto's Andrea Bargnani. In general, you want your players to be efficient with their shot. And when you use as many possessions as Brook & are an important part of your franchise's present and future, you really need to be on your game. And as it turns out, that 54.9 True Shooting % is not what the Nets needed.

We see that the TS% for that year was not where it needed to be with relation to the touches he gets, but why was that the case? It could have had something to do with the mono he battled in the summer, or it could have been a result of his shot locations. If you were around these parts that year, you would've seen a ton of complaints about Brook not getting positioning in the paint, letting himself get bullied by other big men, and settling for long jumpers. And that bore itself out in the numbers. The previous season, he averaged close to seven shots a game at the rim (good for 2nd best in the NBA, ahead of even Dwight Howard). But in the 2010 campaign, those attempts went down to about 5 per game (and shot 63%, which is below the league average of 66% for 5s). So where did the shot attempts go? Jumpshots! His attempts from 3-9 feet doubled to 5 attempts a game, and he was very good in this area, as he shot a very nice 47%, which was well above the league average. We're moving further away from the basket(stick a pin in this one), and the attempts are going up. From 10-15 & 16-23 feet, he took one more shot per game and shot around league average in both areas.

If I could color it red I would, but the bolded and italicized area is and has been a major red flag. Simply put, it's incredibly tough to consistently win games when you don't control the glass. Even if you employ a great rebounder (Kris Humphries), unless you have great rebounders at the other positions your gonna be in trouble on the glass (3rd worst defensive rebounding rate that year) if your Center isn't chipping in. He's not the quickest guy around either, so the defense tends to suffer when he's on the court (although in his defense, the Nets defense has been abhorrent without him as well).

A while back, I said Brook needed to become an above average Center if the Nets wanted to do anything useful going forward. A lot of that was based on the stuff I've discussed so far, but it also shows itself in the player value statistics. Granted, no measure is perfect (nothing is or ever will be), but across the "Big Three," we've got some agreement. And yes, that negative in the Wins Produced column isn't a typo. Their metric has him as one of the worst players in the league & actively harming the Nets chances of winning games. I don't particularly agree with that, but that's how it sees him. PER & Win Shares are more kind to the big man, as he comes out looking better. He hasn't been truly great (or, if we're being completely honest with ourselves, worth being the centerpiece in a Dwight Howard trade scenario), but one thing in his favor is that he's only 24 years old so all is not lost.

How to make improvements:

Remember how I mentioned earlier about Brook getting further and further away from the rim? That's something that should probably be curtailed a bit. It's a benefit to have a big that can hit a 20 footer as it provides more options on offense and can open up the floor a little bit. But when your big is taking fewer shots at the rim (& shooting it at a worse % too), it creates a problem. I think it would be in the Nets best interests to get him the ball in the paint earlier in the shot clock. He does have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and with players like Deron Williams (crosses fingers) & Gerald Wallace, they can get him the ball more often and he can be in a good position to either score or draw fouls. Also, it allows him more time to work on finding a good shot for himself or his teammates when he faces a double team. He's done a good job of getting to the line & converting his free throw attempts so far in his career, and drawing a ton of fouls helps boost his individual efficiency and keeps the opposing defense honest.

In keeping with my little theme of location on the court, being closer to the rim would probably help with his rebounding woes. It's certainly not a guarantee, but I think if he's closer to the basket on offense and more aggressive on defense, he could make himself into a more forceful rebounder. He's not as quick as the new breed of big men in the NBA, so I think he's gotta be stationed near the rim on a consistent basis to protect the interior of New Jersey Brooklyn's defense. This might just be for my own state of mind, but I'd love to see Brook spend some training with Hakeem Olajuwon. Hakeem is one of the great big men in the league's history, has a great mind for the game, and has worked with various players throughout the years. Training with The Dream isn't guaranteed to make you a better player (see Hasheem Thabeet), but spending some time learning from one of the greats can never hurt.

Going Forward:

Provided something unforeseen, Brook will be back with the Nets at 100% next season. He's certainly gonna be a focal point on offense, how much of a focal point depends on the luck of ping-pong balls and the capriciousness of Deron Williams. Either way, he's gonna be key if the Nets wanna make a run at a playoff spot, being noticeable in the jungle that is the NYC sports scene, & hopefully one day, a championship. Hopefully, he cuts down on the deep jumpers and does more work on the inside. He's talented enough on offense, if he can do it every night & become useful on defense, he'll be a steady performer and marketable player going forward.

Part 1 of the series: Deron Williams

Part 2 of the series: Gerald Wallace

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