At the start of his career he was a respectable rebounder. He had a total rebound percentage of 15.8 percent. Then his second season that fell off to 13.5 percent. In his third season, it fell to 10.0 percent. Then, last year it fell to 7.7 percent.
A search on basketball-reference's Play Index reveals that in the history of the NBA only 14 of the 84 seven-foot players with at least 5,000 minutes played have had a lower total rebound percentage than Lopez's career percentage of 12.9.
According to a report by Newsday's Roderick Boone he wants to be better. Boone reports Lopez's comments after the Nets season-opening win.
I'm a little disappointed in my rebounding. It's something I've focused on. I thought I was there. I just didn't get a few to go my way. I'm still happy I focused on it.
Boon also recounts how he plans to do that as well head coach Avery Johnson's sentiments.
Lopez spent time in the weight room in the offseason and said he's in there more than he's ever been. Coach Avery Johnson hopes those extra hours will turn into improved forcefulness on the interior by his big man.
"One of the things I tell him is I want to see what you do in the weight room translate to the court," Johnson said. "I didn't see that when I first got here. I'm hoping because of his increased strength and conditioning, he'll be much more physical during these stretches of the game, get to the free-throw line, make strong shots, get blocked shots.
"That's what we are hoping for, that what he's done in the offseason will start translating more."
And therein lies the issue. Lopez lacks aggressiveness. In fact, one could describe his rebounding efforts as "dainty" or perhaps even "fearful."
Look in the videos below in a game against the Celtics. First, notice on the offensive end he does nothing to push through and fight for a rebound. Who cares if he's one against four. Would that stop Dennis Rodman?
Then look in this video as he lets himself get pushed out on both ends of the court without really even fighting. There's not any muscling up here. He doesn't use his shoulder or his hips. Think of players like Joakim Noah and Anderson Varejao and how they fight for every rebound like they're trying to save the life of their own mother and compare that to Lopez efforts here.
In fact, let's allude back to the aforementioned Rajon Rondo. How does a point guard that's 6'1" and 170 nearly outrebound a 7', 260-pound center? Simply put: abandon, courage and effort.
Rondo plays every minute with sheer intensity and a certain caliber of meanness. He doesn't play like he's going to get hurt; he plays like he's going to hurt you if you get in his way. He might not be the biggest guy in the NBA, but he sure doesn't know it.
Lopez needs to adapt more of that attitude. He needs to be a fighter. He needs to want the rebound more than he wants his next breath. If he can adopt an attitude like that, he'll become an elite center in the NBA.
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