Brook Lopez is having a career year, and for the first time in his NBA life is on a .500 plus team with playoff hopes, and a realistic shot to get into the second round. As the center for a contending team, he should get immediate All-Star attention, but hasn’t for whatever reasons [because he’s an awful rebounder and he’s missed time this season yet again]. But if you compare how Lopez is doing this season with someone else who is assured of going to the All-star game, Dwight Howard, it makes the case all the more compelling.
At first the comparison between these two centers seems absurd on so many levels for so many reasons, save for the recent memories of Dwight to Brooklyn chatter that had Lopez thinking he was surely leaving the Nets franchise before ever playing a game in BK. However, in this strange 2012~2013 season, Brook Lopez may actually be outplaying D-12, and thus more deserving of an all-star bid.
When comparing Howard and Lopez, the first and most obvious difference in talent is rebounding. Dwight is 10th in the league in offensive rebounding, but Brook is only 1 ORPG below him. Howard outrebounds Lopez on the defensive end by a robust 4 per game, and thus his total rebounding stats make it seem like they aren’t in the same stratosphere. While this seems like an open and shut case, one could argue that Lopez’s poor rebounding stats are a result of the shitty system he was stuck in under Avery Johnson, and having a power rebounder in the front court with him. First, if you didn’t already laugh out loud at the subject of the piece, this may get you: Kris Humphries can ball, and has the engine to be a rebounding force that could lead the league [ROFL-Ed]. Lets not get into that debate at all, so lets just agree that Brook has a ‘very good’ rebounder as a Power Forward next to him, so obviously his stats will hurt from lost rebounds to Humphries. In fact, watch some Nets game footage, and they actually both tie for rebounds (both men get both hands on the ball), and Humphries takes it on the floor as the outlet pass man while Lopez runs up the floor to show his offensive prowess.
Another reason Lopez has relatively small rebounding stats for a 7-footer is because of his defensive style. Lopez is a pretty good defender, who can block his fair share of shots (4th in NBA, one spot behind D-12). As an active defender, and a good help defender [NO, no, no, he’s atrocious in this regard, either a step too slow or a little early-Ed], Lopez constantly finds himself outside the paint when a shot goes up. The positive in this approach is that he steps out on his defenders, keeping big men honest and offering help to his perimeter defenders, but this leaves him far away from the rim, and thus out of the high probability range for getting a rebound. This also is a repercussion of Avery Johnsons horrible defensive schemes. These have notoriously led to many miscommunications, lost assignments, and poor teamwork. As a result, team moral goes down as the opponents points go up. As the center in these horrendous zone defenses, Brook has constantly been out of position, especially on double teams and switchs, and so when shots do go up, he is again out of position.
The last and most telling stat to compare between Lopez and Howard is the best way to compare any man (or woman) that plays a non-individual sport; the success of the team. Lopez has been a steady rock for a team that is 4th in the East (1st round home playoff series), 2nd in the Atlantic (above perennial division power house Boston), and 2nd in New York (go Knicks!). Howard made big waves by joining a superhero-esque squad in LA, and is one of possibly 4 future hall of famers in a stacked (but old) starting line-up. That team has had some difficulties to say the least. Lets just say, the advantage in this round is Brook Lopez, by a landslide. Dwight Howard will definitely be at the ASG this year, but he should be meeting the Brooklyn center in the paint.