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Monday June 16, 2008 9:48 am

Pro Prospects: Brook Lopez

Brook LopezThanks to one heck of a performance during the most recent NCAA tournament, those on the East Coast became aware of a guy named Brook Lopez, and the things he could do with the basketball in the low post.  In a first round that will likely be littered with big men, it wouldn’t shock many if Lopez was the first center to come off of the board.  If not, he will not be too far behind fellow West-coaster, Kevin Love.

Current mock drafts have Lopez falling anywhere from third overall to Minnesota to possibly ninth overall to Charlotte.  If he falls anywhere past nine, it would be a steal for any team selecting towards the back end of the lottery.  But what would Lopez bring to the table in terms of fantasy production?

At 7’0” and 260 lbs., the fact that some of the top attributes listed to Lopez’s name are “size” and “wingspan” should not be much of a surprise.  However, the fact that he can run the floor, has excellent footwork and has the ability to hit the jump shot may raise an eyebrow or two.

If Lopez were to be selected by Minnesota, there is a fellow by the name of Al Jefferson that demands a ton of attention in the post.  Given this, the rookie could see plenty of one-on-one opportunities that would allow his hook shot to flourish. 

The down side to his play is that he’s nothing more than an average rebounder.  Minnesota would rely on Jefferson for the glass, and if he did fall to Charlotte, it would not lighten much of the load for Emeka Okafor - at least on that front.  If you have seen Lopez play against similar-caliber big men, you’re likely not too thrilled with what you’ve seen, which also poses a problem for what an NBA team may get from the Stanford baller. 

For now, I see Brook Lopez being nothing more than a role-playing center; at least during his rookie season.  His ceiling is probably that of Andrew Bogut during his first season.  He provides excellent size and durability, but he’s not polished enough to be the next Zydrunas Ilgauskas.  There are plenty of big men that provide a lot more upside, but it depends on how much a team is willing to gamble. 

Depending on the team that selects Lopez, I would not count on him being anything more than a 10 and six guy, and that’s assuming starters minutes.  I would struggle to use a pick on him in even the deepest of leagues as a fourth center.  Of course, a lot depends on how well he adjusts, and he could provide a solid value off of the wire.  But he’ll have to show me an increased ability to stay on the floor against NBA players, grab rebounds and block shots.

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