With the regular season winding down, the Nets will try to rise up to the third or second seed in the Eastern Conference. A big reason for their season's success is Brook Lopez's play.
Brooklyn Nets' center and All-Star Brook Lopez is having an outstanding season after playing in just five games last season. He's been a focal point of the Nets offense all season long with Deron Williams slumping through most of it. Lopez has the league's fifth best PER while leading the centers in that department. His 18.7 points per game on 51.9% shooting are nothing to complain about. However, his rebounding has been suspect, just as it has been all of his career aside from his rookie season, with just 7.4 a game. It's not awful, but his total rebounding percentage has dropped to 13.8% this season. Both his defensive and total rebounding rates rank him towards the bottom of the league's centers. So how can a center whose 7-feet tall manage to rank near the bottom in rebounding? Spencer Lund of DIME Magazine talked with Brook Lopez about this as well as his spectacular dunk on his twin brother Robin Lopez. In it, he mentions the trust he places in his fellow teammates, such as Reggie Evans and Joe Johnson, both above average rebounders for their positions.
Dime: Okay, the criticism of you generally lies in rebounding and defense, but watching you, it seems like you are contesting opposing shots. Do you think that affects your ability to collect defensive rebounds?
BL: Yeah, I think it does a little. There has been more of a focus for me to contest shots this year; to be that last line of defense. I saw that you were wondering whether that was part of PJ’s plan [Ed's note: One of the questions that had been given to him beforehand was one about coach P.J. Carlesimo and what he wanted Brook to do on the defensive end], and he definitely does emphasize it all the time. I’ve gotta be the five point aid on the weak side; be the wall; contest and back our guys up. A lot of the time, I trust our guys. Reggie (Evans) and Joe (Johnson) will be in there and get the rebound if I contest it well enough they miss.
Dime: So after you contest, you’re sort of rotating over to box the guy out, and you’re hoping they’re picking them up?Brook Lopez claiming himself as "the last line of defense" sticks out a lot. His length and blocking ability surely help distort shots coming from anywhere on the court and seem like a viable reason for why his rebounding numbers are relatively low. If players are not closing out on their players, Lopez leaves his area in hopes of distracting the shooter and places his complete trust on players such as Reggie Evans, Gerald Wallace or Joe Johnson. So its not the fact that he cannot rebound, its just that he sees himself with a different role, placed upon him by coach P.J. Carlesimo.
BL: Exactly. So I figure I contest and do a little box out or something like that. I definitely have faith, playing with guys like Reggie, who are very physical guys and eat up the boards.