It’s hard to determine how big is the potential of the Brooklyn Nets, but a lot of it has to do with Brook Lopez remaining as healthy, if not more, as he was last season, although he finds himself recovering from another foot surgery this summer.
It’s the third surgery Lopez has been through over the last couple of years. He played all 82 games during his first three seasons in the NBA, but played in only 5 during the shortened lockout season, bouncing back to 74 in 2012-2013.
Being part of the Nets’ move to Brooklyn and the new and ambitious lineup, Lopez had a solid season, averaging 19.4 points per game, and being probably the best performer for the team in their first round series with the Chicago Bulls, averaging 22.3 points as the Nets lost in seven games.
For now, Lopez is in rehab, but he should be ready for when training camp begins in a month and a half.
I have been getting in some weight lifting, getting shots up and everything is going well. I’m not fully working out. I’m not jumping or running or anything like that, but we have a good month-and-a-half just until training camp starts, so we’ll definitely be all right by then.
Playing next to Kevin Garnett and having Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche on the bench should take off a lot of pressure from him, especially defensively and on the boards. Lopez is very talented in the paint when it comes to offense, averaging over 19 points per game over the last three seasons, possibly even the best in the NBA, but he is not far from being a black hole on defense with slow feet and seems to have timing completely off when it comes to rebounding.
While Kevin Garnett probably isn’t going to spend the amount of minutes Lopez does on the floor (Lopez played 30.4 minutes a night last season and 37.6 during the postseason), he’ll bring the defense, leadership and rebounding ability the Nets might have had with Reggie Evans, only with a lot more capability on offense.
The Nets still need to figure out how the ball will be shared among Deron Williams, the point guard, with Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson, who both love having the rock in their hands, but presumably a good start and chemistry in the offseason will sort these things out. Egos on the bench? A winning team that does better than expected will put those problems behind as long as the wins keep coming.
But Lopez might be the most important piece of this entire puzzle, and without him avoiding injuries, the Nets don’t have the inside presence they sorely need on offense, because their perimeter players might be talented, but none of them is exactly young or considered to be an injury-free player.