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NBA AM: Lopez Remains Brooklyn’s Building Block

The Nets have a long way to go before being relevant again, but Brook Lopez seems like a cornerstone.

Lang Greene

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Not long ago, the Brooklyn Nets swung for the championship fences by acquiring former All-Stars Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce via the trade market to pair alongside center Brook Lopez. In the process, the team mortgaged their future by sending out their crop of draft picks in those deals in order to compete at the highest level immediately.

But as we near the conclusion of the 2015-16 campaign, Garnett, Johnson, Pierce and Williams are now playing in different zip codes while Brooklyn has a long road of rebuilding ahead.

However, there is a bright spot for the Nets in a season filled with inconsistency and plenty of losses.

Brook Lopez.

In 73 contests, Lopez is averaging 20.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and two assists on 51 percent shooting from the field. In fact, if the Nets’ front office didn’t choose to shut down Lopez for the remainder of the season, the veteran would have reached the 75-game mark for the first time since 2011.

With Brooklyn lacking assets via the draft, Lopez shoots to the top of the list in terms of value the team could use to aid in their rebuilding efforts. However, newly crowned general manager Sean Marks believes Lopez is one of the team’s building blocks for the long-term.

“He has talked to me, and we both definitely want to be here and see things happen here and help the team grow going forward,’’ Lopez said about Marks, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Lopez has an extended injury history with two foot surgeries and an ankle procedure taking place over the past four campaigns. With the Nets having little to play for over the last week of the season, Marks decided it was best to protect the franchise’s most talented player.

“That day, I think two people had gotten injured playing in meaningless games, you know, finishing up the season. So he just wanted to take sort of precautionary angle going forward,’’ Lopez said of Mark’s decision.

“He said he wanted to sit down, get lunch, dinner, something like that, and talk about what I see going forward, what his plans are, I guess prepping already.”

Lopez inked a three-year, $63 million deal last summer when the Nets were believed to still be shaping up to be a fringe playoff team. The deal locks Lopez up through the end of the 2018 campaign; he and frontcourt mate Thaddeus Young are the only players currently on the team with guaranteed deals through that time.

This season has been tough to absorb mentally for the veteran. Head coach Lionel Hollins was fired early on and general manager Billy King, architect of the aforementioned swing-for-the-fences strategy, was reassigned within the organization.

“I wish it was more successful as a team, obviously,” Lopez said. “It takes time obviously to figure things out, but I think we could’ve figured things out quicker. “[But] our young guys learned a lot this season, and we found a lot of tools we could use going forward, definitely.”

The Nets (21-56) own the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference and are limping down the stretch as losers of five straight and eight of their past 10.

The tailspin for the rest of the season will undoubtedly continue without Lopez and Young in the rotation. However, the presence of a healthy Lopez, a former All-Star, should give the rebuilding process for Marks a better starting point than some teams that have found themselves in a similar position without a star.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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Headlines

#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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