Former All-Star center Brook Lopez found plenty of success in his first nine years as a Net, whether the franchise resided in New Jersey or Brooklyn. Starting in just his second season, he has never averaged less than 17.2 points per game, and has been a solid center for his whole career.
Fast forward to 2017-18, and Lopez is now on a rebuilding Lakers team where things just aren’t clicking for him. The youngsters are getting more looks, the competitors are playing small-ball lineups that he doesn’t belong in and an injury cost him some games. Not much was going right for Lopez, and the All-Star break was much needed for him.
A few games after the break, things were a little better, but more or less the same. Jumping ahead just a bit to March 7, he dropped 27 points against the Orlando Magic and has since been playing phenomenally.
After some intense research and analysis, I stumbled upon the only possible reasoning for Brook’s recent success, his haircut.
All the numbers
Somewhere between Monday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 7, Lopez got a haircut that many would identify as a “buzz cut,” but it is more like a two or three all around to be specific. Let’s look at his season averages and his post-haircut averages.
Season averages (all 62 games): 12.9 points on 46.5 percent shooting, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.6 3-pointers in 22.9 minutes per game.
Buzz-cut averages (last seven games): 22.3 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2 blocks, 2.3 3-pointers in 33 minutes per game.
You can’t make this stuff up. To be fair, it was actually my mom, who is arguably the harshest Laker fan in existence, who shot me text after text saying things like, “Hey, Brook is finally making some shots with his new haircut.” At first, I didn’t believe her, but after finding where the haircut occurred and self-computing the averages above, I had to give her some props. I owe this one to her.
The difference since this haircut is absolutely remarkable, including almost 10 more points per game, 10 percent better shooting and a handful more assists, boards, blocks and threes. The only categories that have not been better in the past seven contests have been turnovers and steals, which have remained consistent at 1.4 and 0.4 per game, respectively.
In the Lakers’ last seven games, Lopez has been a different player. He has demanded the ball in the post much more and has utilized the skill of posting up that he came into the league being so efficient at. Yes, he is making more threes, but he is also taking less and really working his opponents in the post, which is what the Nets loved him for while he was there.
Keep in mind, it was only last season that Lopez developed a 3-point shot. He made 134 threes last season with Brooklyn, absolutely demolishing his career total of three at the time.
Why is this happening?
All jokes aside, while it would be nice to think that the haircut is the only reason for Lopez’s recent success, it must be coincidence more than anything. If his hair gets significantly longer and he starts dropping his eight and two stat lines, there might be some legitimacy to this “theory” for lack of a better term.
As mentioned before, his post game has been phenomenal lately. Although not all of his shots are typical hooks, drop steps or things like that, those awkward-looking and slow-motion fadeaways grouped with that slight off-arm to create space seem to be working absolutely fine for the 7-footer. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
And as if it couldn’t get any better, his long-range shot is falling too. He is attempting half of a 3-pointer more per game than his season average in his last seven (buzz-cut era), but making 0.7 more. Even for those mathematically challenged, this is just crazy that he has, technically, been adding on more makes than attempts since March 7. In percentage terms, this is over a 10-percent jump from 35.1 to 45.7 percent. In novice terms, everything is falling for him.
Which Brook will we see from here on out?
Inclusive of their Thursday evening game at 8 p.m. ET, the Los Angeles Lakers have 12 games remaining in the 2017-18 season, assuming that playoffs are out of the question. The biggest question mark might actually be Brook Lopez’s performance in these last 12 games. Was this past couple weeks just a huge fluke, or can he remain the dominant player that we have seen lately?
In all reality, it is actually impossible to tell exactly what will happen, given the young Lakers and the abundance of inconsistency that come with them. I can’t say I’d be immensely shocked if he fell off a bit and got fewer minutes to guys like Ivica Zubac for developmental purposes, but he has been playing too well to not get an opportunity to produce any given night. Ideally, I’d love to throw a wig on him and see if he starts throwing up bricks galore, but I’m not sure that is too feasible of an option.
Regardless of hair length, it will be intriguing to say the least to see how slow-mo Bro-Lo fares in his new team’s last dozen games, and time will only tell what the outcome will be.
Featured image from www.silverscreenandroll.com
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