Brook Lopez is already putting together the best season of his young career in terms of points per game, field-goal percentage and field goals made, and all of that suggests that he's ready to make the jump towards "elite" status.
Lopez is averaging 19.4 points per game this season on 56 percent shooting for the Brooklyn Nets. He's taken 14.9 field goal attempts per game, making 8.3 of them.
He's been extremely efficient on the offensive end. This has made him a favorite asset of point guard Deron Williams.
The chemistry between the two is growing each and every game, though there's already good chemistry there. Just look here at this pick-and-roll between the two.
Williams and Lopez execute that to perfection on a nightly basis. This consistency is just one thing that has propelled Lopez into the "elite" discussion.
Another aspect of his game that is actually helping him is his rebounding.
No, his numbers aren't the greatest. He's pulled down just 6.0 rebounds per game this season, 1.8 of which have been offensive rebounds. Even still, he's getting good position under the paint. He's just getting a little out-worked.
Not on this play, however. Lopez gets decent position on the defender when going up for an offensive rebound, but it's his persistence and hustle that gets him this great put-back layup.
Even without great position for rebounds, the NBA's elite big men can grab the ball from whatever position they're in.
Dwight Howard averaged 14.5 rebounds per game last season with the Orlando Magic, leading the NBA. While he had good positioning on most of them, even he couldn't perform a perfect box-out for every rebound.
It was his hustle that got him those boards.
It's impossible to be amongst the game's elite at any position without confidence. Lopez is playing more confidently this season than he has in the past, and that's showing in his production on the court.
Just take a look at this compilation of Williams' and Lopez's games against the Boston Celtics last week. Lopez was demanding the ball in the paint and taking tough turn-around hook shots with defenders in his face.
You don't do those things without confidence.
This newfound confidence of Lopez's will be a huge factor in establishing himself as an elite big man in the NBA.
Lopez is in line to have a career season with the new-look Brooklyn Nets in 2012-13. He may even earn himself a berth in the All-Star game if he keeps this type of play up.
*All statistics as of Saturday, November 24
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