Name: Robin Lopez
Last Week’s Stats: 11.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 58.6 FG%
When GM Neil Olshey brought in Robin Lopez this past summer, fans weren’t exactly racing to the airport to welcome their new center. The year before, Olshey had offered a max deal to Roy Hibbert (a deal that would ultimately be matched by the Indiana Pacers), and bringing in Lopez signified that he was okay with second-tier talent during Portland’s rebuild.
As it turns out, there’s nothing second-tier about what the seven-footer has done in Rip City, and a few key performances this past week exemplify just how crucial he is to this organization.
In the first game of the week, Lopez dominated the inside against the New Orleans Pelicans. He only scored seven points on 1-of-3 shooting, but he showed off what he can do defensively, recorded six blocks in just 24 minutes.
In Game 2, the Blazers visited the Oklahoma City Thunder, and while he didn’t put on a defensive showcase, he did display how efficient he can be on offense. Earning heavy minutes (39), Lopez scored on five of his eight shot attempts. He scored 12 points, and while that was the fewest in the starting lineup, it was his ability to find good shots at the rim that made the true difference.
Following a 1-1 start, the Trail Blazers took down the Charlotte Bobcats in blowout fashion. The team tied a franchise record with 21 three-pointers, but it was Lopez (14 PTS, 5 REB, 70% FG) who had the highest plus-minus on the roster at plus-25.
In the week’s finale, Lopez went out with a bang. He recorded 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting, and he brought down 15 rebounds, nine of which came on the offensive end.
Taking it one step further, Lopez is the reason the team nearly won the game. Damian Lillard couldn’t convert on a last-second layup, but it was the center who stole the Philadelphia 76ers’ inbound attempt, giving Portland a chance to steal one at home.
On the season, it’s performances like this that have made Lopez so valuable. He allows LaMarcus Aldridge to play his natural position, and he finds ways to impact games even when the stats don’t show it.
He’s exceeded expectations when it comes to most fans, and he’s looking like one of the shrewdest acquisitions of the entire 2013 offseason.