The Brooklyn Nets are in the middle of a six-game losing streak, and Brook Lopez has done everything that he could.
To say that Lopez and the Nets are “afloat” over this recent stretch would be pushing it. Five of their six losses have come by 19 or more. To make it seem not as bad, all six of those teams have a shot at making the playoffs this year.
Feel better yet?
It all started when the Los Angeles Clippers pulverized the Nets in Staples Center on Nov. 14. Brooklyn dropped that game by 32, and Lopez got rested because it was the second half of a back-to-back.
The Lakers beat them by just seven, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder (19), Portland Trail Blazers (20), Boston Celtics (19) and Indiana Pacers (21).
Over those games, Lopez has averaged 21.2 points on 46.3 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three. He didn’t play against the Clippers, and it was a huge reason why they got smacked so badly. The Celtics were the only team to hold him below 20 points, and the seven-foot Standford alumnus shot a piddling 4-of-14 from the field.
His new-found love for the three is what’s really helping him put up these numbers. Not only is he nailing more than 41 percent of them, but he’s also making more than two per night.
Lopez is still a capable post player, and he hasn’t completely abandoned it, which is promising. However, he misses Jeremy Lin. Without his Ivy League point guard, the Nets are down a pick-and-roll maestro, and Lopez is a player who can see a lot of success out of those sets.
With his expanded range, it’s just another thing for opposing bigs to worry about.
A shocking stat is how Lopez’s usage is lower without Lin when it would be expected for it to be higher because he’s the clear-cut go-to guy.
Through five games, four of which he played in, Brook’s usage was a staggering 34 percent, and he was averaging less than 25 minutes a night. Over the next nine, he saw more minutes (27.5) and his usage is lower (29.8).
If anything, the Nets are attempting to get more players involved because they lack the talent and they aren’t immediately looking for Lopez to bail them out.
Wrong. Statistically, at least. From the season opener to the game against the Detroit Pistons when Lin got hurt, Brooklyn averaged 334.5 passes a night according to NBA.com; since then, it’s dropped down to 311.7
What that says, to me, is that they’re eating more clock and not capitalizing on their opportunities.
Wasted chances are something you can put on the players, but the Nets aren’t in the ideal position. Without Lin, Sean Kilpatrick, Isaiah Whitehead, Yogi Ferrell and Randy Foye have been calling the shots on offense.
Only one of them has had point guard experience in the past. Kilpatrick was thrust into this situation, while Whitehead and Ferrell are rookies and still getting acclimated to the NBA game.
Is that an excuse? No, it’s not.
Lopez should be looked at as the first option no matter what and the offense should run through him for the time being. Once Lin comes back is when the game plan can revert to normal, but for the time being, any indecision should result in Lopez receiving a touch.