If the Nets record over the last six games is any indicator, Brooklyn’s ballers will go only as far as the right foot of Brook Lopez will take them.
Since Lopez went out with what was diagnosed as a mild foot sprain, the Nets have gone just 1–5 — with the only victory coming against the lowly Orlando Magic.
Say what you want about this being Deron Williams’ team, but it sure seems like Lopez is Brooklyn’s MVP.
Lopez’s injury left the team struggling to adjust to his absence. Andray Blatche has done an admirable job filling in for the missing center on the offensive end of the floor, but he’s not the same threat that Lopez is on defense. And with Blatche in the starting lineup, the second unit off the bench lacks the chemistry that made it so effective in the first month of the season.
The Nets have been most effective this season when they run their offense inside-out, through Lopez. In his absence, the highly touted back court duo of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson has been unable to carry the team.
Without Lopez, the offense has been stagnant — often forcing up bad, deep threes leading to run-outs and easy buckets for their opponents.
For the Nets, Lopez cannot heal soon enough.
If this team really wants to be a real contender in the East, Brooklyn need its All-Star center on a nightly basis, as it’s clear that his mere presence affects everything Deron Williams’ team does.
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.