Robin Lopez has never been the most notable or most important figure on his team. Take his time at Stanford for example, Robin Lopez played second fiddle to his twin brother Brook. Take the 2008 draft for example, Robin was drafted 15th as the second center taken, Brook was taken 10th by the then New Jersey Nets.
Unlike his brother, Robin has not played his entire career on one team. Robin, 25, still only in his 6th season, is now on his third team. After four seasons in Phoenix to the tune of very mediocre results, Robin moved onto the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) and after a much improved one season in the Big Easy was a mere thrown in part to the three team trade involving Grevis Vasquez and Tyreke Evans.
Lopez has been terrific for the Blazers for a multitude of reasons. For starters he allows the Blazers to play LaMarcus Aldridge at the power forward position. Aldridge, who is 6 ft 11 in and 240 pounds is able to use his post-up game to dominate smaller defenders. Aldridge has the ability to both score in the post, but also knock down a mid-range jumper both of which are very important to the Blazers offense. But more importantly, Lopez takes a ton of defensive pressure off of Aldridge. When physical centers such as Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol, and Joakim Noah play the Blazers, Lopez is assigned to guard them, leaving Aldridge to not only go up against smaller power forwards on offense, but also not have to physically battle every possession with true centers.
Even though Lopez’ 9.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game are not spectacular he does a lot for the Blazers on offense. Not surprisingly with Lopez on the court, Rip City shoots a better percentage from less than five feet. But they also shoot a better percentage from the 15-29 foot range. With Lopez on the floor, opponents shot a worse percentage from the field and three as well. Per 100 possessions, opponents also score fewer points and collect fewer defensive rebounds as well.
With Lopez on the floor, the Blazers offensive rating is 112.5, with him off their offensive rating is 106.9. Their defensive rating is not surprisingly better with Lopez on the floor.
Lopez pulls an average of 4.2 contested rebounds per game which is 8th best in the league, and 50% of the rebounds he collects are contested which is tops in the league.
While Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge get most of the headlines for the 24-6 Portland Trail Blazers, center Robin Lopez is one of the most important reasons for the Blazers hot start through 30 games.