Burning Q's: Will Lopez be dominant again?

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
8:00
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LopezBrad Penner/USA TODAY SportsBrook Lopez wants to come back strong from an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign.
With training camp less than two months away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today’s question: Will Brook Lopez be a dominant center again?

Lopez believes the answer is a resounding yes. Last week, the Nets center expressed his supreme confidence that he will come back and be a force.

“Like I said before, I’m not looking for any restrictions,” Lopez told two reporters Friday. “I’m confident I’m gonna be able to go out there and be better than I’ve ever been.”

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Will Brook Lopez be a 20+ point, 6-8 rebound player next season?

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Discuss (Total votes: 599)

Lopez had surgery to repair the fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot on Jan. 4. He also underwent another procedure -- a first metatarsal osteotomy -- which repositioned another bone in his foot to unload and protect the injured area.

Later in early March, Lopez repaired a torn tendon and ligaments in his left ankle.

So, Lopez should be cautious at the start of this season in hopes of not only returning to form but avoiding another setback. He has proof that he can come back strong.

Former NBA big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas had the osteotomy procedure in February of 2001 and returned that December, averaging 21.4 minutes while starting only 23 of the 62 games he played in. However the next season the former Cavs center missed just one game and averaged a career-high 17.2 points in 30 minutes.

Lopez might not average the 20.7 points he was putting up in 31.4 minutes each night last season before suffering a season-ending broken foot in December. He will average fewer minutes and we’ll have to see if Lionel Hollins plays Lopez in back-to-backs.

But there’s no reason not to believe Lopez will average in double figures in points. He hasn’t averaged more than 6.9 rebounds in any of his previous four seasons so he likely will average slightly less than that.

But Lopez could flourish in Hollins’ system. After all, Marc Gasol developed into a force on Hollins’ watch. The former Memphis coach also had success with Zach Randolph inside as well.

Lopez should use this coming season to get back to being healthy and proving that he can resume his career despite all the surgeries on his feet. If he ever is going to be a dominant center again -- and by that we mean averaging 20 or more points and about six to eight rebounds a game -- that likely will have to wait until next season.

Considering how it took about a season for Ilgauskas to regain his form, Lopez could be back to being a force by the start of the 2015 campaign. Certainly at his size, foot problems can derail a career. But Lopez is only 26.

His health is certainly a risk. But if he can stay healthy this season, it’s certainly possible Lopez can return to being a franchise-type presence on a regular basis inside the paint again. There still aren’t many 7-footers with his size and skill.

Question: Do you think Lopez can be a dominant presence again?
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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