The Decline of the Lopez Twins
Twins — they walk alike, they talk alike, sometimes they even have third year slumps alike?
That is the case for Brook and Robin Lopez, one of three sets of twins currently playing in the NBA (Jason and Jarron Collins, and Joey and Stephen Graham are the other two).
Both players were high draft picks in 2008 (Brook went 10th and Robin 15th), both had breakout years last season, both were invited to tryouts for the 2010 U.S. national team that competed at the FIBA World Championships.
And both players have been very disappointing up to this point in the 2010-11 season.
Let’s start with Brook, widely regarded as the more talented of the brothers. He averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks last year for the New Jersey Nets and was seen as one of the cornerstones of the team’s future. This season, he is averaging 18.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while shooting just 45.3 percent from the field as a seven footer.
In fact, his rebounding numbers have been so poor that Coach Avery Johnson has stated that he dreams at night about his center grabbing 10 rebounds a game. Not sure how likely that is considering that he has snared fewer than five rebounds in four of his last five games.
Many people are starting to come to the conclusion that Brook will never be a 10-rebound player, but for a young, 7-foot center who was considered by many to be one of the up-and-coming players in the NBA, posting such feeble stats as those is incomprehensible.
And if Brook was the better of the twins, then that spells bad news for Robin’s drop-off.
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Robin was having a breakout season for the Phoenix Suns last season, averaging 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds, before going down with a herniated disk in his back, causing him to miss the rest of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs. His rehabilitation cost him the opportunity to participate in the national team tryouts, and his recovery seemed to take longer than expected.
He had a couple hot and cold performances before going down with a sprained knee in November and has struggled to find any consistency at all since his return. In his last nine games, he has played more than 20 minutes just twice and scored more than four points just three times.
Robin’s rebounding numbers are even worse. He has had just two games this season with double figures in rebounds — the last one coming Oct. 29 against the Los Angeles Lakers. And of the 23 games he has played this season, 15 have seen him grab fewer than five boards.
The Lopez twins recently faced off Jan. 12 when the Suns played host to the Nets, and the usually fierce performances were underwhelming at best.
Brook Lopez had 16 points and eight rebounds but sat on the bench during a critical stretch of the fourth quarter and overtime. Meanwhile, Robin had just 11 points and two rebounds, outrebounded by every one of his Suns teammates except Grant Hill, Gani Lawal, Garret Siler, and Zabian Dowdell — all of whom did not play.
It is difficult to explain just exactly why these players are struggling so mightily, but both of these players have the talent to turn their games around and realize the potential each has shown during the early stretches of their careers. Both Brook and Robin can become formidable paint presences for their respective teams for years to come.
But if these current trends are any indication of what is to come, then Brook will never be more than a Brad Miller-type player.
And as for Robin, well, one need look no further than the end of the Memphis Grizzlies’ bench and Hasheem Thabeet to see where that sad tale could wind up.
By: Eric Lorenz
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer
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