|Brook Lopez is looking strong in the preseason so far. (Getty Images)|
It's hard to really get too high or low on preseason performances because you're not seeing a lot of regular rotations or schematics that will be prevalent once the games count.
With that said, what people have seen from Brook Lopez in his four games this preseason has been more than encouraging. He's scoring efficiently, playing decent defense at times and rebounding. That's right: Brook Lopez is a rebounder this preseason.
“Now it's about recovery,” Johnson said. “We stretched [his minutes] a little bit, and now it's about recovery and him gaining confidence that, ‘Hey, I'm OK.' There's nothing else to think about ... hopefully this will be a big boost.”
Considering Lopez only played in five games last season, the fact that he played in back-to-back games, and played well, is a huge step in the right direction for him and the Nets. With his scoring ability, he gives them a lot of balance on offense. They don't have to be a perimeter-oriented team that defenses can set up against.
Nets opponents will have to be mindful of Lopez on the block because he's one of the better back-to-the-basket big men in the league.
Deron Williams is certainly thrilled about having his big-man compadre back.
“It's been great,” Williams said. “Brook has been great. He's been in and out this offseason while I was here, so I've seen how hard he's working getting ready for this season, and he's had a great preseason.
“He's rebounding the basketball well, he's scoring the basketball well, he's blocking shots, so he's active. And we're definitely going to need him, and we're excited to have him back in the lineup.”
In his four preseason games, Lopez has averaged 18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.2 free throw attempts per game. He has also made 58.1 percent of his field goals and 82.8 percent of his free throws.
The rebounding is the key here. After averaging 8.3 rebounds per game in his first two seasons (he didn't miss a game), he grabbed just 5.8 rebounds per game over his last 87 games. Going deeper into rebounding stats, his rebounding rate has fallen from 15.8 percent his rookie season to 13.5 percent then 10.0 percent and just 7.7 percent in his five games last season.
Some of his rebounding issues have been attributed to battling mononucleosis during the 2010-11 NBA season. Of course, he could have just been really bored.
There was a lot of concern over the big contract that he received as a restricted free agent this summer, when he signed a max deal of four years and $60 million. With his poor defense and declining rebounding, the Nets were chastised for doling out so much money for Lopez.
If Lopez continues to rebound like the effort that we've seen in his comeback from foot injuries, nobody will feel like the Nets overpaid for their big man.