The Brooklyn Nets brought in Joe Johnson this off-season to compliment Deron Williams in their backcourt. They knew they were going to have a potent guard-duo, if nothing else, for the 2012-2013 NBA season. One of the things that they didn’t know, though, is the kind of production that they would get from Brook Lopez this year.
In last year’s lockout-shortened season, before the Nets made their move to Brooklyn, Lopez played in just five of the 66 total games last season because of injuries. As a big man coming off serious injuries and one that had somewhat under-achieved in his young career, not many people really knew what to expect from him as he returned to action for this season.
It turns out that we should have expected a lot from Lopez this year.
Lopez has been an absolute monster for Brooklyn this season, providing them with consistent play on offense and showing massive improvement on defense this year. He has averaged just 30.6 minutes of time on the floor per game this season. However, he’s taken serious advantage of that playing time, averaging 19.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and two blocks per game on fantastic 52.1 percent shooting.
Considering that Johnson and Williams have both been relatively disappointing this year, the play of Lopez has been vital to the success of the playoff-bound Nets. If he hadn’t played as well as he has this season, they are most likely outside of the top-eight seeds in the Eastern Conference or in the eight-seed at best. He’s been that important.
With Williams improving over recent weeks, and Johnson liable to catch fire at any moment, Brooklyn still needs Lopez to come out and play solid basketball on both ends of the floor every night. If he does this and everything else falls into place for the Nets, they are a team that could be a sleeper in the postseason.