Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Brook Lopez: The Rebounding Struggle

We all know Brook Lopez well here in the Nets fan base. He's the guy the Nets took 10th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. The guy that, even after enduring a 12-70 season and a full season and summer of trade rumors, wanted to be with the Nets. A guy like that is hard to come by nowadays. But we also have come to know him as a sub-par rebounder for a seven-foot center. After starting his career with two seasons of averaging 8+ rebounds a game, Lopez is averaging an awful 5.5 rebounds a game in his last 160 games. But why is it that he's been such a bad rebounder?

I, personally, suspect that the reasoning behind the dramatic decrease in Lopez's rebounding is the fact the he has been playing next to two different top-five rebounders the past three seasons. Kris Humphries averaged 10.4 rebounds in 2010-11 and 11 rebounds in 2011-12. Now with the addition of Reggie Evans, who is averaging 11.1 rebounds on the season, Brook doesn't have to play the role of your prototypical NBA rebounding center. He plays the supporting role by boxing out the opponents while Reggie Evans does the rebounding part. Brook Lopez boxes out the opponent a whopping 57.9% of the time while only going for the rebound 73.1% of the time. Reggie Evans boxes out 20.1% of the time while going for the rebound an incredible 97.4% of the time.

What's going on while Brook isn't boxing out and letting Reggie grab all the rebounds? It's quite obvious that it's pure laziness. He's admitted to being lazy on the boards in the past, but he had spent a lot of time in the 2011 offseason working on his rebounding ability, but he then broke his foot in a pre-season game against the Knicks, which led him to miss all but five games. Maybe the broken foot took away confidence in his rebounding. Maybe he feels that if he's down low banging bodies to get a rebound, he will re-injure the foot. Who knows. But it is something he will need to improve on again. He averaged 8.4 rebounds a game in his first two seasons combined. If he can get his rebounding numbers back up there, he will be a much better all-around player. Especially with the vast improvement of his interior defense.

That being a personal opinion, there is evidence that shows that Brook really isn't as bad a rebounder as we think he is. One issue is that he doesn't have the athleticism to be a great rebound. That's where he relies on technique to help grab rebounds, which involves excessive boxing out. It may not work all the time, but that's Lopez's style. He has to rely on the help of a Reggie Evans or Kris Humphries while he's boxing out his man. Brook boxing out so much makes his numbers take a huge hit statistically, but it doesn't seem to be that big an issue with Reggie on the floor.

We know Brook isn't the most gifted athlete. So when his rebounding numbers are low, we suspect that the reason is he is getting beat by more athletic big-men. He isn't a quick player, so he does get beat into rebounding position a lot. But Brook has the ability to be a force on the glass. He has all the ability in the world, he just needs to develop it more. On the offensive glass, it'll be tougher for Brook to crash the boards because of his play style. He's a back-to-the-basket player or a mid-range shooter, which both make it more difficult for Brook to get into position for an offensive rebound.

With Brook, you get what you see. An incredible scorer, a greatly improved defender, and a bad rebounder. But even with his woes, there is a valid argument for putting him in the top-five best centers in the NBA today. He still has plenty of time to improve, too. He IS still just 25 years old.

Source: hoopchalk.com
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