Brook Lopez might be on the brink of a great season

Lopez's improved range would add a new dynamic to the Nets' attack.

Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Brook Lopez was spectacular during the second half of last year’s Nets run. Now, he’s trying to continue that strong play into 2015-16, and he tells Tim Bontemps of the New York Post that he’s already in prime form:

“My rhythm and touch, they [already] feel there,” Lopez said. “I’ve had to work back into it the past few years because I couldn’t do anything with basketball during the summer.

“It’s a great confidence builder. … It was great to get back and play with my boys in the summer. That helped a lot, too. I was out there playing freely, just getting out there and doing things I normally do, and that helped carry over.”

Lopez averaged 19.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game after the 2015 All-Star break, changing his concentration on the court to more rim-based ideals. He capitalized on a bevy of floaters, hooks, and dunks while improving his pick-and-roll chemistry with the since-departed Deron Wiliams. But Lopez isn’t just an around-the-rim presence.

The big man in the middle for Brooklyn has a soft touch from range, too. The problem: You don’t want to see Lopez rely on the jumper too heavily. That’s when he starts to struggle, like he did at the start of last year when he played a bunch with Mason Plumlee and turned into more of a pick-and-pop-centric player.

But Lopez is always looking to diversify his game, and apparently, he’s adding a little more to his skill set this preseason than he has in the past.

From Devin Kharpertian of The Brooklyn Game:

We hear the Lopez three-point narrative at the start of every year, but it feels a little different this time. He seems to be taking it seriously this year — or as seriously as Lopez can, anyway, while joking about how many 3s he’ll chuck this season:

"I was going to say 600," Lopez joked, per Kharpertian. Which, you know, would be more than seven a game if the oft-injured center plays every contest this season. He’s not getting anywhere near there. But he might attempt a few, especially considering he shot better than ever last season, sinking 42.2 percent of his shots from 16 feet out to the three-point line. And he took his highest concentration of long 2s while being that efficient.

Remember, Lopez won’t be taking his threes from the corner (he attempted a few of those last year). Those might be the easier and closer jumpers than the ones from the wing, but it doesn’t make sense spatially to stash your best inside presence on the side. Realistically, the Lopez threes would come in pick-and-pop situations. 

Those are a little tougher to make. Your momentum is carrying you places that it’s not when you’re simply standing and waiting for a catch-and-shoot opportunity. They’re farther from the rim than the attempts from the corner. But Lopez doesn’t need to take a bunch of triples to actualize the threat of his jumper. 

In the end, the important part of Lopez shooting threes is in the willingness to do it. If he can pop to the three-point line, it merely opens up the floor for the Nets. Even an attempt every three games or so could force his defender to follow him up to 25 feet from the rim, and that’s a major difference for opening up an offense when you considering he was often popping to 18-to-20 feet in the past.

Follow Fred Katz on Twitter: @FredKatz.

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