When the Los Angeles Lakers traded for center Brook Lopez last summer, most immediately thought about the spacing his three-point shooting would provide. After all, he had surprised the league when he demonstrated a newfound ability to shoot the long ball during the 2016-2017 NBA season, and the thought was that he would give rookie point guard Lonzo Ball the kind of room he needed to operate.
However, focusing solely on his shooting ability causes one to overlook a key skill that Lopez possesses: shot blocking. He leads the Lakers by a large margin in the category, recording an average of 1.8 blocks per game, which is also his average over the course of his 10-year NBA career.
On Friday, Lopez recorded his 1,000th career block in a losing effort against the Phoenix Suns, and spoke about it to Robert Morales of the Press-Telegram:
#Lakers center Brook Lopez did not realize he got his 1,000th career block Friday: "It's pretty cool. I've always prided myself on being a shot-blocker. It's something my twin brother and I have always taken to heart and looked to do on the court since we were very little."
— Robert Morales (@RMoralesPT) November 19, 2017
Last season, with Timofey Mozgov as their starting center, the Lakers were the worst defensive team in the league and opponents routinely waltzed to the rim for easy baskets. While that wasn’t all Mozgov’s fault, Lopez has certainly proven to be an upgrade this season. He protects the rim with determination and uses his massive frame to keep opponents from getting layups or dunks.
While Lopez is far from a defensive ace thanks to his relatively slow feet, and he often comes under fire for his poor rebounding numbers, he perhaps isn’t given enough credit for his ability to consistently block shots. With 1,000 rejections now in the books, hopefully, Lopez will begin to get his due in this area.
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