The All-Star reserves were announced last night, and as expected, every writer, NBA analyst and fan had something to say about the coach’s selections. Among the biggest snubs that people have been fuming about are: David Lee, Josh Smith, Chauncey Billups, Chris Kaman, Aaron Brooks and Monta Ellis (For me personally it was Kaman and J-Smoove).
On top of the popular choices, there were a couple of names like Brook Lopez and Andrea Bargnani that were thrown around in the Dime office’s All-Star debate this morning. As I’ve mentioned over and over in the past few months, Lopez is personally enjoying a solid second-year campaign (19 ppg, 9.4 rpg and 2 bpg). With the Nets having a terrible season (understatement), it’s almost impossible to justify giving him any All-Star votes this year.
But just because he’s not deserving of going to Dallas, doesn’t mean Al Horford is better than him. In my opinion, Lopez is the second best center in the East behind Dwight Howard. In fact, I believe Lopez has more big man skills than Superman and will be better than him in a few years. Barring injury, Brook Lopez will soon be the best center not only in the East but in the entire NBA. He will definitely be a perennial All-Star starting next season.
“He could be dominant force in the NBA,” says Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap. “At 7-feet, he’s got a nice touch around the basket. Great footwork. If he keeps working on his game, we could be talking about an All Star for years.”
Although the Nets are awful this season, they won’t be for too much longer. The team has a talented young core consisting of Lopez, Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian, Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Add the fact that they have enough cap space ($31 million next season) to entice a couple of high-profile free agents this summer as well as the possibility to get a top 3 pick in the 2010 Draft, and the Nets could be a playoff caliber team next season. If you want to play best case scenario, the Nets could have a 2010-11 starting lineup consisting of Brook Lopez, LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire, Devin Harris and John Wall.
Lopez already has the tools to be a great center. He doesn’t have Howard’s athleticism or Yao’s height and length, but you can argue that he’s the most fundamentally sound big man to enter the NBA since Tim Duncan. On offense, he can run the pick and roll, has several post moves, a steady 10-15 foot jumper and makes good decisions on the block.
“We do an efficiency rating for every player, and Brook is fourth in the league among all centers,” team president Rod Thorn told The Star Ledger last week. “That’s after Howard, David Lee and Chris Kaman.”
Lopez also shoots at an efficient rate. He hits 50 percent of his attempts and shoots an impressive 82.1 percent from the FT line (he also gets to the charity stripe over 6 times per contest). He does a good job protecting the paint on defense and can rebound and block shots at a high volume. The combination of his size, talent and age (21), makes Lopez the leading candidate for the league’s next best big man.
Can Brook Lopez be the best center in the NBA in two years?