The Nets are currently in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings, and while nothing is yet guaranteed, they seem primed to make the playoffs.
It wasn’t at all like this for the majority of the season, and the recent play of Brook Lopez is a huge reason the Nets have been so formidable as of late, going 11-3 over their last 14 games.
Lopez has been posting 30-point games on a regular basis; per Nets PR, he’s had six of them since March 1, which trails only Russell Westbrook (10) and James Harden (9) during that span.
He’s been recognized for his efforts by being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for his second straight week — something no other player has been able to accomplish this season.
From the official release:
Lopez led the Nets to a 3-1 week behind team-leading averages of 20.8 points (sixth in the conference), 10.3 rebounds (fourth in the conference) and 2.0 blocks (tied-fifth in the conference). Lopez shot better than 50 percent in all four contests, and ranked seventh in the East for the week with a field goal percentage of 59.4. He recorded two point-rebound double-doubles, including a 30-point, 17-rebound outing during a 114-109 win over the Toronto Raptors on April 3.
Lopez’s late-season surge is good news/bad news for the Nets.
In the short term, they may make the playoffs, which is always the goal in Brooklyn — they don’t own the rights to any draft picks in the near future, so tanking doesn’t help, and continuing to be a playoff team will help build a strong fan base that hasn’t yet materialized.
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In the future, however, it may mean that Lopez becomes too expensive to retain in free agency. He has a player option for $16.7 million for next season, and though that may seem like a lot, he can opt out of it to secure more guaranteed dollars on a long-term deal.
If that’s the route he chooses, it would likely mean he ends up playing somewhere else.