Lopez Centers Case as Frontcourt All-Star


The NBA embraced “small-ball” this offseason, acknowledging a positional evolution by removing the “Forward” and “Center” categories from the 2013 All-Star roster and replacing them with a catch-all “Frontcourt” designation.

While the change reflects a league-wide movement, Nets center Brook Lopez wields true size (7-feet, 260-pounds) and a low-post repertoire that would fit in any era. He leads the league’s centers in scoring (18.9 points) and is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 18 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game.

“To me, he’s definitely an All-Star,” said point guard Deron Williams, after Monday’s practice. “He’s playing like one on both ends of the floor. He’s a big reason why we’re playing well right now. He’s a constant threat for a double-double and you throw in those blocks that he’s getting every game, he’s playing so good for us right now.”

The blocks – 2.26 per game, with a high of 5 against the Knicks on November 26 – have come at a career-best mark, the most obvious sign of his overall aggressiveness. Lopez’s field-goal percentage (.523) is his best since his rookie season, and he is taking the fewer shots from 16-24 feet than he has since that same rookie year.

Lopez said he was only made aware of the rule change in recent days, and believes it won’t affect him much. While he would (obviously) like to make the team, he’s focused on helping the Nets succeed best they can.

“I’m trying to be an All-Star caliber player,” Lopez said. “I just want to be the best player I can be, one of the best centers in the league. “

For now, after three rounds of returns, Lopez (76,695 votes) ranks 14th in the Eastern Conference Frontcourt. Heat forward LeBron James (1,151,304), Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (1,054,099) and Boston big man Kevin Garnett (390,751) lead the pack. Overall, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has earned 1,177,456 votes.

After the game’s 10 starters are announced January 17 – voting closes in a week – the Eastern and Western Conference coaches submit their votes (none for their own players) for the seven reserves: two Backcourt players, three Frontcourt players and two position-free selections.

If Lopez cannot gain ground in the fan vote, he’ll have to lean on the stats and scouting reports to mold opposing coaches’ opinions of his worthiness.

“The rule change hurts him, and it’s disappointing to me after all those other years.” Carlesimo said. “But it is what it is, you know? That takes care of itself. I have confidence, regardless of what happens with the fan vote, in that the coaches are going to pick those other 7 spots. For the most part, the coaches get it right.”

Vote for Brook and the rest of the Nets on NBA.com through January 14.

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