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View Full Version : Is Brook Lopez a top 10 player in the NBA? By David Thorpe (LONG READ!!!)



Chill_Will_24
02-06-2013, 07:53 PM
If asked to list the top players in the NBA today, it’s likely any NBA fan or media memberwould rattle off LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony without even thinking. You could probably add Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin, and sure enough, you’d have the top 10 players ranked by PER.

Except for one name, with which advanced metrics does help. Sitting comfortably on No. 4 on that list is Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez who boasts a PER north of 25. Just four players have PER’s above 25, and the other three are bona fide MVP candidates this year — James, Durant and Paul. Lopez even made the All-Star team this year, replacing an injured Rajon Rondo.

So what has Lopez done to catapult himself to these lofty heights? Simply, he’s playing like a skilled big man rather than a big man trying to show off his skills.

Go back to his rookie season. Observers like me were suggesting that Lopez had the potential to be even more valuable than fellow rookie Derrick Rose. Over the next few seasons that sounded increasingly absurd, as Rose ascended to stardom and Lopez drifted into a “tall-man-that-can-shoot” kind of game, listlessly jogging around the court and lofting lazy jumpers most of the time. But just as Rose was inspired to elevate his game by his coach, Tom Thibodeau, and some great teammates, Lopez now is enjoying the same kind of environment and the effects are obvious.

Lopez’s impact

Let us start with Lopez’s willingness to “play big”, which means we can almost always find him in the paint or near the basket on offense. He has shed the aforementioned listless game he showed in his first two years in the league. That alone has helped him take advantage of his enormous size to dominate the interior, something that obviously can’t be done sitting out on the perimeter.
NBA’s Top 10 players

ranked by PER
RANK PLAYER TEAM PER
1 LeBron James MIA 30.61
2 Kevin Durant OKC 29.15
3 Chris Paul LAC 26.15
4 Brook Lopez BKN 25.47
5 Tim Duncan SAS 24.96
6 Carmelo Anthony NYK 24.18
7 Tony Parker SAS 23.52
8 Blake Griffin LAC 23.15
9 Russell Westbrook OKC 23.04
10 Dwyane Wade MIA 23

Lopez began his career as a solid offensive rebounder then disintegrated into an awful one. Now he has the best per-minute numbers for his career as an offensive rebounder. He also is making a career-high 70 percent of his shots near the rim, again, largely due to his loitering around the rim in search of easy putbacks or tip-ins.

Make no mistake — Lopez is effective in the paint and around the rim not just because he’s tall and gets himself in good offensive rebounding position, it’s because he’s also rebounding with toughness and using his agility to tip shots away from opponents to spots only he can get to first. “Self-tipping” is an art, one that is very effective for 7-footers.

The Nets have benefitted greatly from this new version of Lopez, not just from his improved efforts to grab offensive boards, but also creating offensive rebounding opportunities for teammates. He can wear down opponents by continuously going to the glass, which also makes it difficult for opponents to grab defensive rebounds cleanly. The net result is that Lopez has helped his team become a top 5 offensive rebounding team, compared to two seasons ago when they ranked just 15th (and then 10th last year).

Lopez improving his game

Observers and talent evaluators always saw amazing value in Lopez because he had both the size and the skill to be a dominating center in a league that has few such men. Now that he is using his physical talents more than ever, his skill game shines even brighter.

Watching Lopez in the low post as the Nets’ first option is a treat. We see him employ methodical post moves — banging his man towards the center before shooting an easy jumper from 9 feet away. Then he’ll use a quick attack move for the layup. And because Lopez can shoot, he likes to face up. If the defender stays low, readying himself for contact if Lopez bodies him down into the paint, Lopez will just shoot over the crouched defender. That is a smart move, especially if Lopez is gaining good position his initial catch.

I especially like a 14-foot angle shot off the board he uses, better known as the “Tim Duncan.” Lopez has always played with a good pace — not too fast or slow — and now that he is confident and strong, his pace allows him to use shot fakes to gain slightly better position. This also helps him draw fouls; he does not live on the free throw line, but he gets there enough to make it a solid part of his game. And he is one of the few true centers in basketball who can be the best scoring option off both pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop plays. Good hands and a strong lower body help him to absorb contact and still flow to the basket as he rolls after the ball screen.

Lastly, Lopez makes his presence felt on the fast break and early offensive game, filling the lanes on a break and then sealing his man in front of the rim if the numbers are right. His presence inside, especially early in possessions, enables Brooklyn to get open looks from 3-point range. Even though the Nets are not a great shooting team, they get a lot of 3’s thanks to Lopez and his efforts to run the floor and get big inside. This is something to watch: If the Nets can add some better shooters, they can improve a great deal (provided Lopez continues his stellar play).

Lopez hasn’t only improved on offense. He ranks among the league’s top seven in blocked shots, and it’s not just because he’s tall. Watch him as a play develops: From a crouched stance, his eyes focus on either the man with the ball or a player that is the obvious target of the play being run.
Brook Lopez

He had a memorable block recently against Orlando where he recognized from the first moment of the possession that J.J. Redick was going to get the ball off screens. He is doing an excellent job of keeping his hands really high on full arm extension, and he can block shots with either hand (not all shot blockers are adept with both hands).

We can see that he is more cognizant than ever that he can’t always offer help and try to block every shot possible without risking easy offensive put-backs by the man he is covering. That discipline is part of his overall game seasoning, and it’s a part of why Lopez is one of his team’s few solid defensive players.

To be sure, Lopez still is far away from reaching the superstar status that Rose has achieved. And perhaps it is unlikely Lopez will ever to get there. Keep this in mind; we know big men tend to improve after their first few years in the NBA. Lopez is just 24 (for a few more months) and has a PER that is higher than Duncan ever recorded before he was 25.

Much of the failure we saw from Lopez in the past was due in part to the horrible atmosphere surrounding him in New Jersey — coaching issues, substandard talent surrounding him, impending franchise relocations. That is behind him now. Brooklyn has upped its talent around him, and it seems the Nets have stabilized their coaching situation as well. If the Nets continue to develop into legit contenders, and Lopez and continues to evolve his game, his All-Star appearance next weekend won’t be his last.

29$JerZ
02-06-2013, 08:18 PM
You really shouldn't have posted this in the NBA Forum.
He is having a terrific season. Finally being utilized correctly and is clearly Brooklyn's best player.
Hopefully he isn't one of those Centers that injuries keep him from playing at this level

GiantsSwaGG
02-06-2013, 08:29 PM
.

Hawkeye15
02-06-2013, 08:37 PM
Love and Rose being hurt all year, as well as Dirk missing so much time, opened up 3 spots in the top 10. Lopez is fringe to me at best, but he is having a great season, being used correctly, FINALLY. I still have a problem with his defense, and his rebounding is at least getting back to "not making me want to throw up on myself" level. He is having his best season, has been healthy, and has been very good. I was happy to see him named the replacement for Rondo, he deserves it. But not top 10 in my book. And if Love, Rose, and Dirk had played all year, that is 3 more guys in the top 10 not letting him anywhere near it.

ILLUSIONIST^248
02-06-2013, 09:00 PM
If asked to list the top players in the NBA today, it’s likely any NBA fan or media memberwould rattle off LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony without even thinking. You could probably add Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin, and sure enough, you’d have the top 10 players ranked by PER.

Except for one name, with which advanced metrics does help. Sitting comfortably on No. 4 on that list is Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez who boasts a PER north of 25. Just four players have PER’s above 25, and the other three are bona fide MVP candidates this year — James, Durant and Paul. Lopez even made the All-Star team this year, replacing an injured Rajon Rondo.

So what has Lopez done to catapult himself to these lofty heights? Simply, he’s playing like a skilled big man rather than a big man trying to show off his skills.

Go back to his rookie season. Observers like me were suggesting that Lopez had the potential to be even more valuable than fellow rookie Derrick Rose. Over the next few seasons that sounded increasingly absurd, as Rose ascended to stardom and Lopez drifted into a “tall-man-that-can-shoot” kind of game, listlessly jogging around the court and lofting lazy jumpers most of the time. But just as Rose was inspired to elevate his game by his coach, Tom Thibodeau, and some great teammates, Lopez now is enjoying the same kind of environment and the effects are obvious.

Lopez’s impact

Let us start with Lopez’s willingness to “play big”, which means we can almost always find him in the paint or near the basket on offense. He has shed the aforementioned listless game he showed in his first two years in the league. That alone has helped him take advantage of his enormous size to dominate the interior, something that obviously can’t be done sitting out on the perimeter.
NBA’s Top 10 players

ranked by PER
RANK PLAYER TEAM PER
1 LeBron James MIA 30.61
2 Kevin Durant OKC 29.15
3 Chris Paul LAC 26.15
4 Brook Lopez BKN 25.47
5 Tim Duncan SAS 24.96
6 Carmelo Anthony NYK 24.18
7 Tony Parker SAS 23.52
8 Blake Griffin LAC 23.15
9 Russell Westbrook OKC 23.04
10 Dwyane Wade MIA 23

Lopez began his career as a solid offensive rebounder then disintegrated into an awful one. Now he has the best per-minute numbers for his career as an offensive rebounder. He also is making a career-high 70 percent of his shots near the rim, again, largely due to his loitering around the rim in search of easy putbacks or tip-ins.

Make no mistake — Lopez is effective in the paint and around the rim not just because he’s tall and gets himself in good offensive rebounding position, it’s because he’s also rebounding with toughness and using his agility to tip shots away from opponents to spots only he can get to first. “Self-tipping” is an art, one that is very effective for 7-footers.

The Nets have benefitted greatly from this new version of Lopez, not just from his improved efforts to grab offensive boards, but also creating offensive rebounding opportunities for teammates. He can wear down opponents by continuously going to the glass, which also makes it difficult for opponents to grab defensive rebounds cleanly. The net result is that Lopez has helped his team become a top 5 offensive rebounding team, compared to two seasons ago when they ranked just 15th (and then 10th last year).

Lopez improving his game

Observers and talent evaluators always saw amazing value in Lopez because he had both the size and the skill to be a dominating center in a league that has few such men. Now that he is using his physical talents more than ever, his skill game shines even brighter.

Watching Lopez in the low post as the Nets’ first option is a treat. We see him employ methodical post moves — banging his man towards the center before shooting an easy jumper from 9 feet away. Then he’ll use a quick attack move for the layup. And because Lopez can shoot, he likes to face up. If the defender stays low, readying himself for contact if Lopez bodies him down into the paint, Lopez will just shoot over the crouched defender. That is a smart move, especially if Lopez is gaining good position his initial catch.

I especially like a 14-foot angle shot off the board he uses, better known as the “Tim Duncan.” Lopez has always played with a good pace — not too fast or slow — and now that he is confident and strong, his pace allows him to use shot fakes to gain slightly better position. This also helps him draw fouls; he does not live on the free throw line, but he gets there enough to make it a solid part of his game. And he is one of the few true centers in basketball who can be the best scoring option off both pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop plays. Good hands and a strong lower body help him to absorb contact and still flow to the basket as he rolls after the ball screen.

Lastly, Lopez makes his presence felt on the fast break and early offensive game, filling the lanes on a break and then sealing his man in front of the rim if the numbers are right. His presence inside, especially early in possessions, enables Brooklyn to get open looks from 3-point range. Even though the Nets are not a great shooting team, they get a lot of 3’s thanks to Lopez and his efforts to run the floor and get big inside. This is something to watch: If the Nets can add some better shooters, they can improve a great deal (provided Lopez continues his stellar play).

Lopez hasn’t only improved on offense. He ranks among the league’s top seven in blocked shots, and it’s not just because he’s tall. Watch him as a play develops: From a crouched stance, his eyes focus on either the man with the ball or a player that is the obvious target of the play being run.
Brook Lopez

He had a memorable block recently against Orlando where he recognized from the first moment of the possession that J.J. Redick was going to get the ball off screens. He is doing an excellent job of keeping his hands really high on full arm extension, and he can block shots with either hand (not all shot blockers are adept with both hands).

We can see that he is more cognizant than ever that he can’t always offer help and try to block every shot possible without risking easy offensive put-backs by the man he is covering. That discipline is part of his overall game seasoning, and it’s a part of why Lopez is one of his team’s few solid defensive players.

To be sure, Lopez still is far away from reaching the superstar status that Rose has achieved. And perhaps it is unlikely Lopez will ever to get there. Keep this in mind; we know big men tend to improve after their first few years in the NBA. Lopez is just 24 (for a few more months) and has a PER that is higher than Duncan ever recorded before he was 25.

Much of the failure we saw from Lopez in the past was due in part to the horrible atmosphere surrounding him in New Jersey — coaching issues, substandard talent surrounding him, impending franchise relocations. That is behind him now. Brooklyn has upped its talent around him, and it seems the Nets have stabilized their coaching situation as well. If the Nets continue to develop into legit contenders, and Lopez and continues to evolve his game, his All-Star appearance next weekend won’t be his last.


Sorry but brook lopez is not a top ten player.

Alayla
02-06-2013, 09:04 PM
No Bynum Dirk Rose and Love being Hurt has alot to do with it Boget has been out untill now as well there all better than lopez is

Kashmir13579
02-06-2013, 09:09 PM
He wasn't good enough to stop Kobe going BEAST mode.

JOhnnyTHaJet
02-06-2013, 09:20 PM
I don't care about rankings. I just love the fact that many doubt him so severely on this site. Last year he was "one of the worst players in the NBA" now he's "Okay but overrated".

Keep is goin PSD ;)

GiantsSwaGG
02-06-2013, 09:24 PM
He's still soft. But he's having a really nice season

JOhnnyTHaJet
02-06-2013, 09:25 PM
Sorry but brook lopez is not a top ten player.

You really needed to quote all that for one sentence?

GiantsSwaGG
02-06-2013, 09:36 PM
I'll admit, he's having a better season as I originally thought. He's a top 5 center in my book but he has to improve his rebounding and defense in order to stay up there!

Sactown
02-06-2013, 09:37 PM
He's playing like it.

b@llhog24
02-06-2013, 09:38 PM
Fringe top 10.

Corey
02-06-2013, 09:38 PM
Is he having a great season? Definitely.

Does that make him a top 10 player in the league? Nope.

Chill_Will_24
02-06-2013, 09:47 PM
Just to be clear i am not agreeing or disagreeing with what was written. I happen to be one of Brook Lopez's harshest critics.

DR_1
02-06-2013, 11:39 PM
:laugh:

ThaDubs
02-06-2013, 11:43 PM
Top 10 player??? Nooooooooooo... maybe a top 5 center. Even the 2nd best in an era of soft/horrible centers. But definitely not a top 10 player. Maybe not even a top 20. I'd take a healthy Bynum over him.

b@llhog24
02-07-2013, 12:05 AM
Top 10 player??? Nooooooooooo... maybe a top 5 center. Even the 2nd best in an era of soft/horrible centers. But definitely not a top 10 player. Maybe not even a top 20. I'd take a healthy Bynum over him.

There's no such thing.

Sadds The Gr8
02-07-2013, 12:20 AM
lolno

KniCks4LiFe
02-07-2013, 12:21 AM
Fringe top 10.

Can you believe we're even saying he's that? Fringe top 10, last season homie wasn't even top 40 on my list.

Lakers + Giants
02-07-2013, 01:17 AM
DMF must be sick. Shocked she hasn't posted here.

shep33
02-07-2013, 01:32 AM
Lopez is easily the best player on his team. Top 10... mmm I don't think so, but he's an absolute stud. Best offensive center in the NBA right now and it isn't even close.

Baller1
02-07-2013, 01:38 AM
You really needed to quote all that for one sentence?

Best sig ever.

Baller1
02-07-2013, 01:41 AM
Lebron
Durant
Paul
Duncan
Westbrook
Kobe
Parker
Wade
Melo
Love
Rose
Bynum
Lee
Curry
Griffin
Dwight

Off the top of my head, I would take all of these players of Lopez. No, he's not top 10.

DoMeFavors
02-07-2013, 02:26 AM
yes he is a top 5 player

Buckwheat
02-07-2013, 02:28 AM
hahahahaha

Sadds The Gr8
02-07-2013, 03:16 AM
yes he is a top 5 player

http://i987.photobucket.com/albums/ae351/Saldana23/shaq.gif

JOhnnyTHaJet
02-07-2013, 04:23 AM
Best sig ever.

Thanks man, all the credit goes to netsdaily and a certain poster over there.

netsgiantsyanks
02-07-2013, 06:53 AM
Can you believe we're even saying he's that? Fringe top 10, last season homie wasn't even top 40 on my list.

...he played 5 games last season.

DoMeFavors
02-07-2013, 08:38 AM
so far this year I got

Lebron
Durant
CP3
Carmelo
Brook

NYJ - NYY
02-07-2013, 09:51 AM
http://i987.photobucket.com/albums/ae351/Saldana23/shaq.gif

best response ever lol and johnnythajet greatest sig ever lol brooks face in that is priceless and derron "the cheese" williams' face is funny too

Fired-Up
02-07-2013, 12:54 PM
He's not a wing player who dunks and teabags people or shoots fall away faders. So by default........ most fans say. Whaaaa... Brook Lopez? Top 10? Nah, Kobe Bryant *****.

jmoney85
02-07-2013, 01:17 PM
he's not top 10 but hes close

JohnnyOutcast
02-07-2013, 02:45 PM
This is why I hate the PER stat. It is not the stat that is the problem, but how people use it. A lot of people will use the PER or some other advanced statistic as the sole basis of their argument for or against a player. If someone said that LaMarcus Aldridge(PPG) or Omer Asik(RPG) is a top 10 player because they are in the top 10 in one particular stat most people would say that's ridiculous. The same should go for advanced stats as well. They are stats equal to PPG, APG, or +/- and one stat shouldn't be used as the only reason a player is a top 10 guy.

He's a great player just not a top 10 guy.........

ghettosean
02-07-2013, 03:09 PM
This is why I hate the PER stat. It is not the stat that is the problem, but how people use it. A lot of people will use the PER or some other advanced statistic as the sole basis of their argument for or against a player. If someone said that LaMarcus Aldridge(PPG) or Omer Asik(RPG) is a top 10 player because they are in the top 10 in one particular stat most people would say that's ridiculous. The same should go for advanced stats as well. They are stats equal to PPG, APG, or +/- and one stat shouldn't be used as the only reason a player is a top 10 guy.

He's a great player just not a top 10 guy.........

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Well said I'm sick of people using PER as a sole basis to say a player is a top player in the league... Glad some people are figuring out that this is a silly way to measure a players overall value!

Hawkeye15
02-07-2013, 03:13 PM
This is why I hate the PER stat. It is not the stat that is the problem, but how people use it. A lot of people will use the PER or some other advanced statistic as the sole basis of their argument for or against a player. If someone said that LaMarcus Aldridge(PPG) or Omer Asik(RPG) is a top 10 player because they are in the top 10 in one particular stat most people would say that's ridiculous. The same should go for advanced stats as well. They are stats equal to PPG, APG, or +/- and one stat shouldn't be used as the only reason a player is a top 10 guy.

He's a great player just not a top 10 guy.........

Everyone here knows I am a stats guy, and I agree with you 100%. Even Hollinger doesn't use PER alone when he does his evaluations for crying out loud. One stat says one thing, another may say something different. Need to use them together to make a point.

JerseyPalahniuk
02-07-2013, 03:20 PM
Not a top 10 player but has all the potential to be.

There's a reason I've had his name bolded in my sig since this summer.

We essentially lost our best player for a full season last year or we wouldn't have needed a Joe Johnson to convince Dwill to stay.

Swashcuff
02-07-2013, 03:30 PM
If Brook Lopez this season is a top 10 player in the NBA its speaks volumes to the NBA's lack of superstar talent.

oak2455
02-07-2013, 03:46 PM
Top 10 :laugh:

Hawkeye15
02-07-2013, 03:52 PM
Not a top 10 player but has all the potential to be.

There's a reason I've had his name bolded in my sig since this summer.

We essentially lost our best player for a full season last year or we wouldn't have needed a Joe Johnson to convince Dwill to stay.

Never thought of it that way. If you are right, that sucks ***. Using that $20 million to get a cheaper version of JJ and more depth would have been ideal.

seikou8
02-07-2013, 03:52 PM
If Brook Lopez this season is a top 10 player in the NBA its speaks volumes to the NBA's lack of superstar talent.

yup

Hawkeye15
02-07-2013, 04:05 PM
If Brook Lopez this season is a top 10 player in the NBA its speaks volumes to the NBA's lack of superstar talent.

It also speaks to how many stars have been hurt this year. Rose, Love, Dwight, Gasol, Dirk, and Bynum have all missed time, or not played well due to injury.

Daaaarryyl
02-07-2013, 05:06 PM
Just to be clear i am not agreeing or disagreeing with what was written. I happen to be one of Brook Lopez's harshest critics.

I think many of us can agree that the guy has developed pretty well and has been undervalued though.

Hawkeye15
02-07-2013, 05:22 PM
Has Brook Lopez had the largest single season swing in player rankings ever? Seriously. And I mean that sort of in a positive way.

He115ing
02-07-2013, 05:57 PM
probably not even top 20.
It was funny listening to the Nets game on the radio yesterday. They made Lopez seem like the goat. 17 points and 9 rebounds, what a beast!:eyebrow: