EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - He's adept at hitting a bank shot. He can hit a baby hook. He's even proved he has some touch, hitting tear drops that resemble something more like a palm drop given his massive hands.
Might be time for Brook Lopez to start hitting something else: the glass (for rebounds) and any books he can find on the art of the pick-and-roll defense.
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The offensive repertoire is there, making Lopez one of the rare 7-footers in the league who's more of a throwback, thanks to his ability to play with his back to the basket in the post and maneuver on the low blocks. But for all those offensive skills, Lopez has yet to consistently assert himself in the rebound department and he's still struggling to properly guard the pick-and-roll, which was evident in the Nets' 113-107 loss to the Wizards on Wednesday night.
"No question, a lot of it is on me," Lopez said Thursday before the Nets (9-16) headed down the New Jersey Turnpike for Friday's game against the 76ers (7-19). "It's just a matter of doing my job . . . That's what we went through today. It's just really a matter of myself recognizing where I need to be and communicating better."
Let's start with rebounding, a troubled area of the Nets that the Wizards further exposed when they amassed 19 offensive boards. Overall, when Lopez is on the bench, the Nets actually yield less offensive rebounds, albeit slightly. With Lopez on the floor, the Nets have given up an average of 11.4 rebounds compared to 10.9.
Lopez is averaging only 5.9 rebounds per game, by far the lowest total of his five-plus seasons save for his injury-ravaged campaign in 2011-12, when he played in just five games of the lockout-shortened season. Jason Kidd wants to see some better rebounding totals not just from the Nets' All-Star center but from everyone else.
"The thing is, it's not just Brook," the Nets coach said. "It's everybody being able to gang rebound, team rebound. You can point to one guy, one play. But it's not about that. It's about team rebounding."
The Nets also have to improve their schematics when playing pick-and-rolls. Lopez admitted he's not getting up high enough into the screener, and that seems to be causing a bad chain reaction.
"They are going to put him in the pick-and-roll," Kidd said. "They are going to put K.G. in the pick-and-roll, [Andray] Blatche or whoever our bigs are. So we have to get better at that and we have to make progress in those type of plays. When you look at most teams in this league, they run pick-and-rolls. So, Brook is going to be involved and I think he's getting better."
All it takes is a little more want-to on both sides of the ball, and Kidd had his team watch some footage yesterday of one play in particular in order to further emphasize that point.
"I showed a clip of us offensively having it and having six passes," he said, "and it was just to show good offense, but also show our opponent making a multiple effort, running us off the three. So, it was both offense and a defensive clip, but I would say we have to get better at that, making that second and third effort."