The Brook Lopez Dilemma in Brooklyn

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    Updated: November 18, 2014
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    So much for that great start to the Brooklyn Nets season. After starting the season 4-2, the Brooklyn Nets have lost 4 straight games and the last two have been the most alarming. The Nets loss against the Portland Trail Blazers came without two of the Blazers starters in Nicolas Batum and Lamarcus Aldridge. And in the loss to the Miami Heat, the Nets faced a Heat team that was also missing two starters in Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng.

    I was expecting the Nets to go 2-1 on their west coast road trip and to beat a depleted Heat team. I was wrong, way wrong. The Nets lost all four of those games and they lost all of them in horrible fashion. Something is fundamentally flawed with the Nets, and the chemistry that was there in the first six games seems to have gone array. The question is, why? What’s going on with the Nets in the last week that’s derailed the team? My guess is it all stems from Brook Lopez.

     

    Joe Johnson’s Comments Were Telling…

     

    One of the quietest guys in the NBA has always been Joe Johnson. He seems to keep to himself and does the talking on the court. But when Johnson decided to lay into an unnamed teammate about being selfish on the court, it piqued a lot of people’s interest. Who was the player Johnson was talking about?

    Well, if you can’t get a straight answer from a player, just look at the numbers of the players around him, then you’ll find your answer. For the Nets, the player that Johnson was talking about was Brook Lopez.

    Through the first four games of the season Lopez had 2 assists, which is terrible. Anytime Lopez got the ball anywhere on the court he felt the need to just try and make things happen on his own. He was essentially playing 5 on 1 basketball on every possession, and he didn’t seem to care. Now, there can be a number of different reasons for this. One reason can be since Lopez was out all of last year he is trying to get his rhythm back, so he feels the need to take more shots to get himself going.

    Another reason may be that because of the games he’s missed not only last year but throughout his Nets career, Lopez feels the need to prove his worth by putting points on the board. If Lopez is trying to make up for lost time and trying to pull his weight after missing so many games, it’s commendable but misguided. The only other reason I can think of is that Brook’s foot is still not in a good place so it’s affecting his game as a whole. I honestly don’t know what’s happening but the problem is Brook.

     

    Through 8 games this season he is averaging less than 1 assist per game. He virtually turns into a black hole when on the court. The ball movement stops and all the players’ stand around waiting to grab his rebounds should he miss a shot. Or the players just don’t want to pass him the ball period, which negates having a 7’1 center standing under the basket. It’s frustrating to watch as a fan, I can tell by Lionel Hollins facial expressions that it’s frustrating to watch as a coach, and by Joe Johnson’s comments I can tell it’s frustrating to be part of as a player.

    After the Nets loss to the Heat, Lionel Hollins was asked about Brook’s subpar performance in which he scored 5 points and had 1 rebound in 22 minutes, Hollins responded, “I don’t want to talk about Brook right now” he said with a sigh. He continued, “I don’t want to talk about any individual players. I want to talk about the game and our effort.” It was an effort that was sorely lacking for most of the team last night, not just Lopez. But at the nucleus, it’s Brook. But it’s not just his lack of assists that are detrimental to the squad; it’s far bigger than that.

     

    Too Big To Not Be More Dominant…

     

    Brook Lopez is 7’1 and 245 pounds worth of NBA center talent. Brook’s problem is that he plays like he’s 6’3 195lbs when he’s in the post. He gets bullied far too often and that’s a weakness in his game that he has yet to overcome in his 6 seasons in the NBA prior to this one. He’s averaging almost 5 rebounds a game which would be a great number for a guard, but he’s a center, and it’s woeful.

    Lopez is the epitome of the finesse big man and that sort of player is not what the Nets need under Hollins. Hollins took the Memphis Grizzlies to a Western Conference Finals off the backs of two of the best bigs in the game, Zack Randolph and Pau Gasol. Randolph and Gasol are your typical big men that do all the things a coach likes in the blocks while being good enough to hit jumpers away from the basket.

    Unfortunately the only person that Hollins has doing that right now is Kevin Garnett who is well past his prime. Garnett is having a bounce back season after a dismal 2013-2014 year. So far this season Garnett is averaging 8 points and 9 rebounds per game, which is being wasted with him playing alongside and inferior rebounder like Lopez. The worst part is that Lopez is a 4th quarter liability when the Nets need him most.

    The Nets are a notoriously awful 3rd quarter team which puts the onus on the starters to finish off the 4th quarters strong. These are Brook’s stats in the 4th quarters of games this season:

     

    That’s unacceptable for one of the cornerstones of the franchise. Hollins continuously pulls Brook out of 4th quarter battles because he knows the 26-year-old center can’t be trusted to provide any assistance to his teammates. This leaves young Mason Plumlee to fill the void.

    Although I do think Plumlee is a solid player, he’s too inexperienced to be asked to help in big moments at the center position while the star center looks on with sad faces from the bench. It’s not a good moment for the Nets and Brook, and something needs to give.

    It’s too early to start panicking for the Nets, but Brook needs to shape up and soon. I’ve heard people say he needs to be traded, and with the way he’s started the season I would be all for a trade if there were players out there that could provide help for the Nets this season. But that’s something I don’t think the Nets brass has considered yet.

    But if this continues I wouldn’t be surprised if a roster shake up is coming, and Brook Lopez finds himself the odd man out.

    Follow @LSN_Frantz on Twitter

     

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