Brook Lopez. Is he a superstar or a product of the NBA’s over indulgence for competent centers?
After failing to strike a deal with the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard, the Brooklyn Nets re-signed Lopez to a four-year deal worth approximately $61 million—essentially a match contract. But is he worth it? After a lockout-truncated season that saw him appear in just five games, was committing a fortune to the 24-year-old wise?
The answer isn’t yes, it’s of course.
Lopez is a seven-foot monster. He has a great touch around the rim, and finishes stronger at the basket than most people give him credit for. His mid-range game is impeccable and he’s a guy who’s going to give you 20 points a game. His timing on the defensive end has rendered him a threatening shot-blocker as well.
Yes, his footwork on defense is regrettable and yes, he has to crash the glass with less finesse and more explosion, but he’s a mere tweak or two away from reversing such shortcomings. So while those are areas of concern, they’re concerns that can be dealt with, molded and transcended into eventual strengths.
Now, how is that not worth a little more than $15 million annually? It’s a pile of money, yes, but the market for big men essentially set Lopez’s price that high (see Roy Hibbert).
The Nets—after failing to land Howard—needed to house a strong center, and there was none on the market better than a budding Lopez, with endless potential who is already familiar the workings of Avery Johnson’s system.
Fractured foot or not, this was a deal the Nets had to issue. Lopez gives them a body to bang down low against opposing bigs on a nightly basis, he give’s them low post production and most importantly, he ensures that Brooklyn remains in the hunt for Howard come January, should the Dwightmare rear its ugly head until then.
Is Lopez a superstar? No, but he’s well on his way. He’s far from overrated and his two-way diligence isn’t appreciated nearly enough.
Considering what the Nets needed, what the alternatives were, what the market dictated and the trade value Lopez will hold leading up to the trade deadline, his latest contract was a no-brainer.
And was one that—courtesy of Dwight Howard’s penchant for perpetuating indecision—stands to pay lucrative dividends to the Nets, in more ways than one.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.