Following their fairly dramatic overhaul this summer, the Brooklyn Nets roster seems to be a few cuts away from being finalized. As it’s currently assembled, one major flaw stands out - the lack of serviceable three-point shooting. No player on the Nets shot 36% from deep (the league average) on at least 100 attempts last season and only the aging Joe Johnson, Wayne Ellington and erratic Jarrett Jack have done it in the past three years. Last year, Brooklyn ranked among the bottom ten teams in three-point percentage and attempt rate in a league where the three-pointer plays a key role in any good offense. Although the Nets shot better from three following the Thaddeus Young deal, they’ve lost some key shooters heading into this season and don’t have room to bring in new ones. A solution? Have their best offensive player shoot threes.
Brook Lopez has attempted 17 threes in his seven-year NBA career, making just one of them, so the idea seems foolhardy off the bat. But Lopez certainly has the range, and given the green light could prove that with a bigger sample size. Lopez has shot a good number of long twos over his career, so delving into those numbers could give us an idea of how he would fare shooting from three. Last season, Lopez shot 41.7% from 20-24 feet on 60 attempts. In 2013, he connected on 36.8% on 38 of those attempts and did the same in 2011. If teams choose to chase Lopez off the arc and make him create off the dribble, Lopez would still be able to thrive. Lopez shot just shy of 42% on off-the-dribble attempts from 8-24 feet last season, per NBASavant. He also got whistled for only five charges.
There’s also the offensive rebounding factor, which is a trade-off for bigs stepping out behind the arc. This isn’t much of a factor though, given the Nets are already a poor offensive rebounding team (23rd in the league) and the idea is Lopez would be taking a step back on his long twos, not shooting more jumpers in general.
The question quickly goes from “can he” to “will he” after consuming these numbers, Lopez’s fundamentally sound stroke and that according to TheBrooklynGame’s Devin Kharpertian he knocks them down in warm-ups. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN wrote a story last month suggesting Lopez could be working on adding the three-point shot to his game, but it doesn’t include any assurances from Lopez or his coaches. Here’s some video of Lopez working on his threes in a recent workout with the Nets:
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 15, 2015
Heading into his prime, Lopez is a throwback to old school NBA centers that hasn’t needed to adapt to this point. But with his team shallow in the three-point shooting department, now may be the time to add a new era big man’s skill to his game.