After a slow start, Robin Lopez is starting to heat up for the Portland Trail Blazers. The 7 foot center has racked up three double-doubles in his last four games and seems to be getting more comfortable in his role with the team.
Though he will never be mistaken for his brother, Brooklyn Nets All-Star, Brook Lopez, Robin has been effective in his own way. He is rebounding well, playing adequate defense, and is displaying an offensive side to his game. After collecting no more than six rebounds in any of his first five games, Robin has ten or more in his last four. He has also scored eleven points or more in four of his last five games, putting the ball in the hoop in a variety of ways.
While Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are the focal points of the Trail Blazers offense, Lopez is developing into just enough of a scoring threat inside to keep defenses honest. His inside presence will be important for the Blazers this season, as it may draw opposing defenders closer to the rim, opening up space for LaMarcus Aldridge at the elbow.
Make no mistake, Robin Lopez isn’t going to make a huge impact on the defensive end. Teams are still scoring in bunches in the paint against the Blazers this year, and opposing guards are still fearlessly driving into the lane for higher percentage shots. The Trail Blazers are dead last in the NBA in giving up points in the paint. However, in the last four games, Lopez is pulling down defensive rebounds at a high rate, including nine and ten, respectively, in his last two games. While he may not always be able to stop opponents from scoring, he is ready to capitalize when they don’t.
If Lopez can continue to steadily improve and gel with the starting unit, he will forge himself into an important cog in the Blazers’ lineup. How far the Blazers go this season could very well depend on it.