On Wednesday NBA commissioner David Stern announced that Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez would be a replacement for Boston Celtics injured star Rajon Rondo in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game. His first career all-star appearance, Lopez becomes the 13th all-star to represent the Nets franchise. But more than that, the all-star nod validates Lopez.
The Nets spent all of the 2012 offseason trying to land all-star center Dwight Howard who had requested a trade from the Orlando Magic. The offer would’ve included, among others, Lopez who had yet to impress over his first four years in the league. The Magic decided against the trade feeling that Lopez was not a player they could build around.
To be fair to the Magic, Lopez wasn’t anything to get excited about. At 24-years old Lopez is not likely to get much better than he’ll be in the next year or so and up that point there was nothing that made you think he could replace Howard. In the 2010-2011 season Lopez raised his scoring average from 18.8 to 20.4 but his rebound average had dropped from 8.6 to 6. If he could’ve raised his scoring average and kept rebounding at the same rate, the Magic might have been interested.
Another problem was the 2011-12 season. Despite the shortened season due to the lockout, Lopez only played in five games missing the rest of the season because of injury. He looked like a player who was declining and then could become injury prone. Even most Nets fans agreed that the Magic made the right decision.
Also during the offseason Lopez signed a four-year contract reportedly worth $60.8 million. That’s a contract worth an all-star and most people considered to be way overpaid. That put even more pressure on Lopez. He certainly felt that he would have to live up to his new contract.
Heading into this season Lopez felt like he had a lot to prove. Most people felt that Lopez would be unable to reach his potential in the NBA. But this year he’s come back strong. His scoring is down a little bit down to 18.6 but his rebounds are up to 7.3 per game and that’s where he’s needed most.
There have been a lot of questions about Lopez over the last few years. A former first round draft pick with a lot of potential who had not lived up to the hype. But this all-star nod, although he is a replacement for an injured player, validates Lopez to a certain extent. If he can continue this play for a few more seasons he may change everyone’s mind about him as a player.