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37° Good Afternoon

Brook Lopez is healthy, happy and hooping

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, left, and his

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, left, and his twin brother Robin Lopez of the Knicks, watch the action during the first half of Game 1 of the WNBA basketball Eastern Conference finals between the New York Liberty and the Indiana Fever, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP / Mary Altaffer

DURHAM, N.C. - Billy King has observed essentially every minute of the Nets' initial training camp practices, watching the action from one of the many cushy chairs lining Duke's dual practice courts.

So as the Nets general manager jogged his memory Friday, scanning for what has caught his eye most during these first four sessions, he pondered very briefly before highlighting his 7-foot center's offensive dominance.

"Probably that nobody can guard Brook [Lopez]," King said. "I'm just being honest. Whether it's shooting jumpers or inside. But you start thinking, 'Is our offense good or is our defense bad?' But that's probably the biggest thing, is nobody has been able to stop him.

"It looks like it's a continuation from last season, which is good."

Mentally, Lopez is in a much better place and is as happy as he's been in recent memory. Being healthy this offseason has allowed him to prepare in ways he hasn't been able to for the past four years, putting him in prime position to piggyback a solid first season under the tutelage of coach Lionel Hollins.

Lopez averaged 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks last season, bouncing back nicely after a 2013-14 season when he played in only 17 games because of a broken bone in his foot. The Nets re-signed him to a three-year, $60-million max contract in July. As one of the franchise's cornerstones and the person King is building around, Lopez has been asked to step out of his usual laid-back demeanor and become more of a vocal leader.

Gladly, Lopez has obliged.

He spoke up during the players' first team meeting on Monday and noticeably has been trying to do the same thing on the court.

"Personally I just feel good and I'm healthy," Lopez said. "I haven't been in this situation for years now. I got through the season, I was able to play in the summer and just keep ramping it up. Now, I'm in a position that I haven't been in in a long time and I just want to take advantage of it."

Young's frontline mate Thaddeus Young sees the seven-year veteran doing just that so far, destroying anyone who's been charged with the task of defending the big fella.

"When Brook gets in a comfort zone, it's hard to stop him," Young said. "He's one of these big men that's not a physical big, but he really has a lot of attributes that you really just can't stop with him being a 7-footer."

Lopez is thrilled and relieved to know he doesn't have to ramp up his activity levels and slowly work himself into a flow for once. There's an unmistakeable difference in his approach early in camp and he's emitting an aura of calmness on the floor.

"I'm only dying a little bit in the conditioning drills in training camp," Lopez said. "My rhythm and touch, they feel there. I've had to work back into them the past few years because I haven't been able to do basketball activity generally during the summer.

"It's a great confidence builder. It's great to get back and play with my boys a little in the summer and just to play open gym. That helped a lot, too. I was out there just playing freely, wasn't trying to run any plays. Just getting out there and doing things I normally do. And I think that helped carry over."

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