The Brook Lopez Effect
Entering the 2012-13 NBA season, there weren’t many who expected the Brooklyn Nets to jump out to an 10-4 start through the their first 14 games. There also aren’t too many people that would have said that the same red-hot Nets would the go ice cold, and lose five of their next six games once center Brook Lopez went down with a mildly sprained right foot.
Prior to Lopez’s injury, the Nets resembled a fine oiled machine, not only playing well on both ends of the floor, but also being placed on a list with the top teams in the entire Association. However, since the seven-footer went down during the Nets’ 95-83 victory versus the Boston Celtics on November 28, the team has played terribly, winning just once and losing their last five in a row.
This season, Lopez is averaging team-highs in points with 18.5 per game and blocked shots with 2.5 per contest, along with 6.8 rebounds per night. In his absence, the Nets have not been able to replace his numbers in the box score or his presence in the paint.
Brooklyn had allowed 100 points or more just five times in the 14 games which Lopez competed; however, the Nets defense seems to be lost without the big man in the middle, surrendering 100 points or more in four of the six games which they have played sans Lopez. In fact, the only game in which the Nets defense held a team to under 97 points during Lopez’s current injury stint was also their lone victory during the his absence – a 98-86 victory over the Orlando Magic. Other than that, it has been a scoring fest for teams when they face off against the boys from Brooklyn.
The Nets are surprisingly performing better without Lopez in the lineup, averaging 97.5 points per game as opposed to the 95.6 points which they were posting per game with Lopez. It’s on the defensive end where Lopez is truly missed the most, as the team has been allowing 101.8 points per game as opposed to the 90.7 points per contest which they were allowing when Lopez was healthy.
Lopez will again miss action on Wednesday when the Nets face off against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, and there is no time-table for his return. The only thing which the Nets have said in regards to the injury is that the center will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis, and that he will return to action when he is healthy enough to do so. It is truly amazing to think that the Nets’ success this season is linked directly to a player who the team was attempting to trade away this off-season in attempts to acquire Dwight Howard - now Lopez is almost indispensable to them.