Going into the 2008 NBA Draft the scouting report on Stanford center Brook Lopez touted his offensive skills, but raised questions as to whether he would be strong and athletic enough to hang with the superfreaks that roam at the highest level. Now as we enter the penultimate month of the season, Lopez has answered all the questions, and if anyone's still asking he can have them talk to his two consecutive NBA Rookie of the Month awards.
This latest award, which went to he and the fourth selection Russell Westbrook, should cement his candidacy for the Rookie of the Year award. Most years Lopez's campaign thus far would make him a favorite (he's been better than Greg Oden, after all), but the 2008 draft class is shaping up in impressive fashion; between number one pick and odds-on favorite Derrick Rose, the high-profile OJ Mayo in Memphis, and the aforementioned Westbrook amongst other quality NBA freshman there's enough competition to keep the Nets rookie positioned as a darkhorse. After having him fall in their laps in the tenth slot -- he was the only skilled seven-footer projected to go in the top ten -- surely no one in New Jersey will be complaining.
The same can't be said for cross-the-river New York Knicks fans who may be holding one of the few lemons to come out of last year's draft in Danilo Gallinari. It's still way too early to condemn "The Rooster" as a bust, but instead of a huge Italian question mark Knicks fans could be looking at a front line of Lopez, David Lee, and Wilson Chandler or Al Harrington. A line that, on paper at least, would be one of the best and brightest in the Eastern Conference.
In the NBA what you see is usually what you get in terms of player productivity; if Gallinari pulls a Frederic Weis the new management team could have all this season's progress undermined by their first and only (thus far) major mistake. Even worse, they'd have the other local team reminding them of that mistake for the next ten years.