Brooklyn Nets: Brook Lopez’s Style of Play is an Old Man Game

Oct 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) controls the ball as Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) defends during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret the NBA is evolving. Almost every decade the NBA sees a new style of play or type of players. With the NBA center changing how does the Brooklyn Nets‘ very own Brook Lopez fit the mold?

A recent trend in the NBA has been the stretch big. First, we saw players like Chris Bosh and Serge Ibaka start to expand their game and shoot threes. Especially a player like Bosh who used to be a back to the basket player started to expand his range to open up lanes for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. It was a necessary step for Bosh in order to win multiple championships with the Heat.

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This past year, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns, and nine other big men attempted at least 75 three pointers. Each guy that attempted at least 75 threes is listed at center, either as their primary position or their secondary.

And that leads us to this season. Marc Gasol, who attempted only three three-pointers all of last season has made seven this season. He is having a successful transition so far. As for Brook Lopez, he is trying to make the transition too. Lopez is 5-of-15 from deep this season. With his only successful game from behind the arc coming against Detroit, it is hard to say how well Lopez will shoot the ball from three this season.

That is not to say Lopez is not capable of making a three. In fact, for many seasons now, Lopez has been knocking down long-range twos. If he would have taken just one step back on all those shots, Lopez would have attempted at least 35 threes per season to this point in his career. But judging by the rate Lopez is taking threes, he is on pace to join the 13 centers who shot 75 threes last season.

Mar 24, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) drives against Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Lopez’s Style of Play Doesn’t Fit the Current NBA

Even if Lopez stepped out on all those long-distance twos, he would only be making the occasional three-pointer. All the other centers in the league are incorporating it into their game early or it is part of their DNA. For Lopez, he does not belong behind the three-point line. Lopez’s strength is his back to the basket game. He is an elite post scorer and he should not stray away from what he does so well.

Adding a three to his game should just be for occasional use. Basically, it would keep the defense honest when he does a pick and fade or when he spots up. It would be the perfect surprise to knock down an open look, but it should not become a primary focus for him.  What he should be doing is getting on the block and going to work.

Unfortunately for Lopez, his style of play does not fit the current mold of the NBA. He would have been a great center in any other era, but now the NBA is focused on high-octane offense. Just about every center in the NBA is either a stretch big or an athletic freak. DeAndre Jordan fits the current mold because he is so deadly in the pick-and-roll. He also has great defense. Some NBA teams do not even have a true center anymore. Cleveland‘s Tristan Thompson is naturally a power forward, but his athleticism and excellent defense allows him to play center.

Oct 30, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (right) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Lopez’s Future

Brook Lopez still has a bright future in the NBA. It actually is a benefit for him to be such a great post scorer. Not many players in the NBA have to deal with covering the post. This gives him an advantage when it comes to offense. If the Nets were able to surround him with three-point shooting, it would make him deadly. It would allow him to work in the post and then kick it out if he gets doubled.

Lopez’s style is one that will age well. As he gets older, his body is less likely to break down because he is very grounded. He will also always be a threat. For a guy like Dwight Howard, he has been on struggling teams for multiple seasons now. It is not entirely his fault. The systems he was in do not benefit Howard. At the same time though, he clearly is not as athletic as he once was. He is always sore or hurt and cannot dunk on people every game like he used to. With a subpar post game, Howard’s future in the NBA is entirely dependent on his health. The day he cannot run as fast or jump as high as he once did, he will be out of a job.

For Lopez, he will be much like Tim Duncan. Duncan seemed ageless. He was a post threat since day one. Lopez is similar to Duncan in this respect. He has always been a post scorer and has a great touch around the rim. His free-throw line floaters are something fans have never seen before. He also makes some of the most acrobatic shots look easy. Lopez is really a one-of-a-kind player and should not make any drastic changes to his game.

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