Saturday, October 10, 2009

Preseason Hype: Brook Lopez

One thing I've learned as a basketball fan is that preseason performances usually mean jack shit. However, I can't help but getting myself worked up over certain aspects of preseason each year. This month, I'll interject with random ramblings based on meaningless exhibition games.

The Hype: Over the years, Nets fans have been seen all shapes and sizes of basketball players. There are those who truly suck, such as Soumaila Samake and Brandon Armstrong. We see those who get much hype, but never live up to it - your Hassan Adamses and Zoran Planicics.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are the players who are solid for several years, but never quite All-Stars (Richard Jefferson, Kerry Kittles). Then, you have your All-Stars - Devin Harris, Kenyon Martin, Vince Carter. And, finally, you have your Hall-of-Famer, the MVP candidate, the player who will lead your team to new heights and who you will be telling your grandchildren about when you are wallowing in senility. So far, only Jason Kidd belongs in this class.

So, I know I just explained the obvious - there are good and bad basketball players. Big revelation. Where am I going with this? Well, I like to think that, over the years, you can begin to identify the potential of where the players on your team, and how they will eventually be remembered. Devin Harris is already an All-Star, but I doubt he will reach the next echelon. But Brook Lopez?

I have to say, this preseason, he has looked absolutely scary. He looks like a man amongst boys, just scoring inside at will. There are a lot of comparisons to Tim Duncan, which sounds absurd, but he definitely has the body, and is younger than Tim Duncan was when he entered the NBA. Right now, I have a feeling in gut that Brook Lopez might be the next Hall-of-Fame Nets player, and we'll be seeing number 11 in the rafters in 20 years.

The Reality: OK, snap out of it. It is just TWO fucking preseason games, against teams with weak front lines. We will see how he does against the bigger teams in the NBA. Also, as his play improves, teams will start to shift their game plan to shut him down. Finally, a truly transformational player needs to make his teammates better, and I have not seen that yet in Brook's game.

But, there's hope. In a season that most pundits have written off as a rebuilding year (including myself), it will be interesting to see Brook's progression. Will he stall out, ala Al Horford, and not make a significant improvement? Or will he go where I think (well, "hope" might be more appropriate) he will - on a course to Springfield, Massachusetts?

But, as of now it is just...Preseason Hype.

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