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Monday, January 7, 2013
Lopez 14th in All-Star East frontcourt voting

By Mike Mazzeo

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez is playing like an All-Star this season. But it doesn’t appear as if any NBA fans have noticed.

As of the latest returns on the fan balloting, Lopez ranks 14th among Eastern Conference frontcourt players -- behind the likes of New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire (who has played three games this season due to injury) and Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (who has yet to play a game this season due to injury). So Lopez, 24, is going to need help from the East coaches in order to make the team as a reserve.

Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez is playing like an All-Star this season, but fans don't seem to notice.
"To me, he’s definitely an All-Star," Nets point guard Deron Williams said. "He’s playing like one on both ends of the floor. He’s a big reason why we’re playing well right now. He’s a constant threat for a double-double, and you throw in those blocks that he’s getting every game, he’s playing so good for us right now."

Lopez, who has never made an All-Star team, is having the best season of his career, averaging 18.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks on 52.3 percent shooting. He ranks fifth among all NBA players in PER. The four players in front of him? Miami Heat small forward LeBron James, Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant, New York Knicks power forward Carmelo Anthony and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

"I can’t lie and say I wouldn’t like to make the team," said Lopez, who missed seven games with a sprained right foot (the Nets went 2-5 without him). "I’d definitely enjoy that. But my goal is to help the team be the best team it can be."

This is the first season that the league took away traditional positions -- i.e., center, forward and guard -- and replaced them with frontcourt and backcourt.

"The rule change hurts him, and it’s disappointing to me after all those other years," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "That’s just the way it is. I’m not a fan of fan voting to begin with, so the fact that in addition to that, they took the position away. It is what it is, you know?

"I have confidence, regardless of what happens with the fan vote, that the coaches are going to pick those other seven spots. For the most part, the coaches get it right."

Asked about Lopez being so low in the voting, Carlesimo said, "I haven’t looked at it, so I’m gonna say one of -- if he’s not one of the best centers in the league, I’m crazy. There’s no question he is. But I don’t think you can worry about the fan vote. Hopefully the other 14 coaches in the East will see what he’s done."