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Saturday, September 28, 2013
Nets center breakdown

By Mike Mazzeo

Brooklyn Nets training camp begins on Oct. 1 at Duke University. We conclude our position-by-position breakdown with center.

The starter: Brook Lopez

What can he do for an encore?

Lopez, 25, is coming off his best season as a pro. He averaged 19.4 points, 2.1 blocks and finished fifth in the NBA in player efficiency rating.

Mason Plumlee
Former Duke center Mason Plumlee has the pedigree. But will the logjam at center keep him out of the rotation?
Lopez played better defense than he has in the past. His rebounding numbers weren’t great (6.9 per game), but you can live with that when your center is doing everything else really well.

First-year coach Jason Kidd wants Lopez to get his assist numbers (0.9 per game) up, however.

Lopez is coming off offseason foot surgery, his third such surgery in 18 months, to replace a screw which had bent.

Lopez is a solid option in the post, and he has a nice midrange game (42.2 percent from 10 to 16 feet).

He should benefit from playing with future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett down low.

The backup: Andray Blatche

Andray Blatche was a pleasant surprise last season, after signing a make-good, one-year deal in the summer.

He averaged 10.3 points on 51.2 percent shooting -- the majority of the time coming off the bench -- and was extremely efficient. In fact, Blatche had the highest PER jump of any player in the league.

The Nets were able to bring Blatche back on the cheap -- signing him to a two-year, $2.9 million contract with a player option for Year 2.

Blatche is an extremely talented player -- especially offensively -- but is prone to making poor decisions.

If he stays out of trouble off the court, he should be a valuable contributor for the Nets.

The third-stringer: Mason Plumlee

The Nets took Plumlee in the first round of the draft.

GM Billy King likes the fellow Dukie because he is a polished four-year college player who can contribute immediately.

Plumlee showed his athleticism and high motor during the NBA Summer League, finishing off several plays with dunks.

Given how much depth the Nets have in the frontcourt, it might be prudent to send Plumlee down to the D-League for some seasoning.