With training camp in full swing for NBA teams, many players are settling in their new destinations and understanding their respective roles. New Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez knows that his focus this season will be concentrated on the defensive end.
"I'm really focusing on defense," Lopez said during the Blazers’ media blitz on Monday. "I want to be somebody who makes people think twice about driving to the basket."
Lopez will undoubtedly give the Blazers the size that they lacked in the 2012-13 season, particularly at the center position. Though the 6-foot-9 J.J. Hickson averaged a double-double for the Blazers with 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, he wasn’t the shot-blocking threat they needed in the middle. Lopez, on the other hand, averaged a career-high 1.6 blocks per game for the then-New Orleans Hornets last season before they officially became the Pelicans.
Hickson’s departure to the Denver Nuggets via free agency meant that the Blazers had a gaping hole to fill at the center spot. The 7-foot, 255-pound Lopez fit the bill as the Blazers acquired him via a three-team deal in the offseason.
With Lopez complementing LaMarcus Aldridge up front and last season’s Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard holding his own in the backcourt, the Blazers are primed for a playoff push in the 2013-14 season. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was brimming with confidence when he spoke about his team on media day.
"We're going to be a better team, there's no question about that," said Coach Stotts. "How that translates into playoff seeds? That's why you play the season."