If you would have told me before the season started that Robin Lopez would be averaging 11 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, while shooting almost 54 percent from the field and 80 percent at the line, I wouldn’t have believed you.
But that’s exactly what he is doing.
Lopez has been starting at center all season and has proved he is a legitimate big man in the league. Going into the offseason, the Trail Blazers needed a big man to sure up their defensive woes from the 2012-13 season. General manager Neil Olshey traded in the defensively challenged J.J. Hickson for Lopez in hopes of those issues being solved. I don’t even think Olshey imagined that Lopez would be playing this well. At that point Lopez seemed like a short term fix considering the tight budget the Blazers had while trying to greatly improve their league-worst bench from the previous season.
Olshey faced a lot of scrutiny for not going after a bigger name at center. LaMarcus Aldridge was growing impatient during the summer because of his frustration with the Blazers missing the playoffs for another year. Word around the media spread that if the Blazers didn’t make big improvements to their roster (especially at center) that Aldridge would either demand a trade or walk at the end of his contract.
The result? Olshey was able to sign Lopez, Mo Williams, Dorell Wright and Earl Watson, while also trading for Thomas Robinson and adding C.J. McCollum in the draft. So for the Blazers fans that were angry about Olshey’s moves (and many were), now is the time to kiss his feet and be thankful for having a good GM. Not only do the Trail Blazers have a legitimate starting center (sorry J.J. Hickson) but they also have a decent bench to relieve the starter of some minutes.
Lopez just fits the Blazers’ Rip City culture. He is a hard-nosed player that plays with a lot of emotion. It would be silly not to say Lopez is a big reason why the Blazers are sitting at fifth in the Western Conference; just 4 ½ games back from first place. That would be the third best record in the Eastern Conference for those who keep track.
Lopez is making a case for the NBA’s Most Improved player, but he would be up against some stiff competition with Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Phoenix’s Goran Dragic, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Indiana’s Lance Stevenson all playing very well this season. With that being said, Lopez is still underrated in the NBA. This is why some many teams drool over the next best big man that enters the league. Post players are just that important in the NBA and if teams want a good shot at winning games they need a quality center or power forward.
After six years in the NBA, Robin Lopez has proven he should be the Blazers center for several years to come. It’s about time the Blazers had a center they can rely on.