Zachary is a new addition to the AYS writing staff. Please welcome him to the site — Dane.
Earlier last week, Dane looked at how Lopez makes a difference defensively, making him a solid upgrade over last year’s rotation. However, Lopez has shown the ability to score down low when things aren’t clicking in the normal flow of the Portland offense. It may be time for him to see more touches in the post in upcoming games.
Last season, Lopez averaged just above 10 points per game — not the greatest productivity. However; entering yesterday’s game against the Phoenix Suns coming off his best performance in terms of scoring efficiency as a Trailblazer by scoring 17 on 7-of-10 shooting against the Detroit Pistons. What did Lopez eat for dinner Monday night? Drummondsticks.
Prior to last night, Lopez ranked 46th in the NBA in close touches per game; touches that originate within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives. From this area he’s shooting just over 64 percent and scoring just under four points per game. There would be more reason for complaint here if Lopez wasn’t outside of the top 200 in touches per game this season. His 57 points so far this season have come on 209 total touches on the offensive side of the floor.
Lopez shot 69 percent at the rim last season and hit 124 of 334 attempts between the three to 16 foot range, a miserable 37 percent. Lopez took 226 of the 334 attempts from the 3-to-10 foot range, and the remaining 108 came from 10-to-16 feet out. The field goal discrepancy, percentage wise, between his attempts in these areas is a fraction of a percent.
Here’s his shot chart thus far.
Though the season is still young, the center the Blazers acquired from New Orleans in the offseason is showing discipline around the rim, playing within himself and not doing anything unorthodox by shooting outside of his determined three-foot range. After Monday’s game he was 51 percent around the rim, which will improve, and it’s also worth noting that Lopez was 11-of-17 from the charity stripe -which is 65 percent- — that’s below his lifetime average by eight points. He’s on pace to shoot less free throws than last season (207), but not by much. It’s another fraction of a percentage that separates his FT per game average so far this year. Including Wednesday’s win over the Phoenix Suns Lopez has made 17 trips to the foul line in the previous four games and converted 13 of those attempts.
Against the Suns Lopez was 5 for 11 from the field and scored 13 points. His field goal percentage dropped minutely, however; remember most his labor is done working on glass, last night was no different. Lopez snatched up 15 rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end — the first time this season he’s had more rebounds than points.
The Blazers are still developing chemistry with Lopez, but it’s silly to think that he’s not improving. As the Blazers become more comfortable together — and as teams start to gameplan for Portland’s three point attack — it may be time to turn Robin Lopez into more than just a sideshow on offense.