Nets coach Avery Johnson believes that Brook Lopez can be a 20-and-10 center someday.
Point guard Deron Williams feels strongly that Lopez can be a perennial all-star. A top-5 NBA center.
As for Lopez?
“Hopefully,” the 23-year-old said Monday. “We’ll see what happens this season.”
The Nets are clearly expecting big things for their big man in the middle. They know he can score. He’s done that in the past. But they want him to become a better rebounder.
Consider: Lopez finished 16th out of 28 qualified centers in rebounding (a career-worst 6.0 per game, 1.6 below his career average) and second-to-last in rebounds per 48 minutes last season.
“Maybe he’ll never be a ‘Dennis Rodman offensive rebounder,’ but where he was last year is not good enough,” Johnson said.
Lopez agrees with his coach’s assessment.
“I was being lazy first and foremost,” Lopez said. “Hump [Kris Humphries] would do such a good job. I’d see him do his thing and kind of leak out offensively. I didn’t real crash the offensive boards. There’s no excuse for that because I don’t leak out offensively.”
Lopez has been working with assistant coach Popeye Jones without a basketball, adding a swim move and spin move to his repertoire on the offensive glass.
A main focus for Lopez heading into the 2011-12 campaign has been increasing his “rebounding attempts.”
“This year, we’re watching him on film,” Johnson said. “If he gets the rebound, great, but it’s all about did you attempt to go for the rebound?”
Lopez had just 10 10-or-more rebound games last season -- an unacceptable number for a player 7-feet tall.
“I have a lot of confidence that he’s going to take the next step,” Johnson said. “I think it’s time. He can get 10 or 11 rebounds in one game, but it’s about consistency, and that’s what we’re looking for. Night in and night out.
“He’s capable of defending the basket and blocking shots. But I don’t want him to forget about coach’s 22 points.”
In Saturday’s preseason opener, Lopez filled up the stat sheet to the tune of 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. According to Johnson, he also had 10 more rebound attempts, far more than he had in any game last season.
“Last season he liked to ‘arena watch,’” Johnson said. “He didn’t have that 911 urgency to go after the rebound.”
Johnson believes Lopez can and will improve in that area.
“He doesn’t have to get 16 rebounds, but we don’t want it to be six,” Johnson said. “We think what he did Saturday can be an average game for him.”
Lopez believes he needs to continue to improve on his pick-and-roll defense, something he’s struggled with. He’s working on “blitzing” a lot more this year.
He also said he’d love to have Humphries -- the fifth-leading rebounder in the league -- back.
“I’m not gonna say no to Kris,” Lopez said. “There’s no question he helped us last year. Obviously that’s not really in my hands, though. He’s working out in Minnesota. But I’d like to have him back here. No question.”
Williams says is making steps in the right direction to become a 20-and-10 top-5 NBA center.
“I’m going to stay on him and make sure he achieves those goals,” Williams said.