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Can Brook Lopez, Nets Get All-Star Nod?
Posted By Alex Raskin On January 29, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The days following his All-Star snub were difficult for Brook Lopez, but not because he was smarting over his omission from the Eastern Conference squad.
The Brooklyn Nets suffered losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets by a combined 37 points over the weekend. Lopez wasn’t bad (he scored 39 points and had eight blocks between the two games) but the Nets allowed over 60 points in the paint on both Friday and Saturday, which pretty much killed any lingering regret over missing the All-Star team.
Even after hearing that Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, creating one All-Star roster spot, Lopez’s focus stayed with Brooklyn’s two-game losing streak.
“This was a big game for us coming off the previous two games,” Lopez said Monday after a 97-77 win over the visiting Orlando Magic. “We really came out and made an effort.”
As much as Lopez tried to downplay the re-emerging All-Star chatter, he couldn’t escape the topic. A Brook Lopez “All-Star fan club” emerged in the stands just behind the West baseline (as we learned later, it was organized by NetsDaily.com readers) and even small choruses of arrhythmic “All-Star” chants popped up throughout Monday’s game.
“I’m just thankful that we have support out here like that and they continue to support us night in and night out,” said Lopez, who has played with the franchise long enough to remember of dead silence of the Izod Center. “I’m glad they’re here for our guys.”
Lopez — who has never been named an All-Star — may not be arguing his case, but the numbers are overwhelmingly in his favor.
NBA fans remain split on Player Efficiency Rating (the statistic invented by Memphis Grizzlies executive John Hollinger that rates every player on his per-minute production), but the fact that he ranks fourth in the league, ahead of such stars as Carmelo Anthony (fifth), Tim Duncan (sixth), Kobe Bryant (seventh), Tony Parker (eighth) and Dwyane Wade (ninth) speaks volumes.
If you’re looking for more traditional stats, Lopez leads all centers in scoring and ranks seventh in the NBA in blocked shots. He’s shooting 52 percent from the field, makes 73 percent of his free throws and even though he ranks second among centers in usage (the number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes) he’s only turning the ball over 1.8 times per game, which means he’s among the more reliable players in the league with the ball in his hands.
And things haven’t been going too bad defensively, either. The Nets haven’t been the best defensive team all season, but they are dramatically improved in that area under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo and veteran Keith Bogans believes Lopez is a major reason why.
“He’s so big and he takes up so much space,” Bogans told me for a recent Wall Street Journal article. “I know, if I’m guarding a great perimeter guy in this league, I can give it to him knowing that Brook is at the basket to at least alter the shot a little bit.”
Lopez isn’t the Nets’ only candidate to replace Rondo, though. Commissioner David Stern could also go with six-time All-Star Joe Johnson (17.1 ppg, 38.4 percent accuracy from 3-point range) or three-time All-Star Deron Williams (17.1 ppg, 7.8 apg).
“I’m equal opportunity, I just hope it’s one of my three guys,” Carlesimo said Monday, adding, “I honestly don’t know what the commissioner is gonna do. I don’t know what will guide him in his decision.”
Brooklyn fans are hoping that Stern uses the traditional All-Star logic, which usually relies on team record.
The 27-18 Nets would have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs if they started today and they’re only three games behind the Miami HEAT for first place in the conference (the two teams play on Wednesday).
There are a few other candidates, but someone like J.R. Smith plays for a team, the Knicks, that already has two players on the All-Star team. There is a chance that Stern could replace a Celtic with a Celtic by adding Paul Pierce, though.
In any case, the Nets are still scratching their heads as to why they didn’t get an All-Star selection.
“I have no clue how we don’t have an All-Star,” Williams said Monday. “That’s not really my concern. I don’t think that’s anyone’s concern. Our concern is winning basketball games.”
And it’s the concern for winning that ultimately should lead to one of the Nets (probably Lopez) receiving an All-Star selection.
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