Brought in as quite possibly a depth addition by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Robin Lopez may see his fair share of DNPs as the season progresses. That said, the veteran big man may offer the team something they missed for large stretches of last season, a proven backup Center with size.
After trotting out Tacko Fall, Ed Davis and Moses Brown out on the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse court at various moments throughout the duration of an injury-riddled 2021-22 season, the Cavs can finally feel confident about their options behind the star front-court pairing of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Enter Lopez, a known terrorizer of mascots the league over.
Weight: 281 pounds
2021-22 stats: 36 games, 7.1 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, 55.3% FG, 33.3% 3PT
While it’s safe to assume that Mobley will operate as the team’s backup center for stretches due to some lineup staggering, Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff could also elect to have RoLo soak up some minutes there in an effort to maintain the health of his starters. This would be a wise course of action to take considering Cleveland’s late season implosion coincided with Allen’s exit.
In fact, the Cleveland-based team would go on to win just seven of their 18 remaining regular season games following that untimely injury, bringing their record sans Allen to an abysmal 9-17 on the season. And while he would eventually return to the lineup in the team’s second play-in game, it was crystal clear that he wasn’t himself and was predictably hampered by his injury. That just showcased the importance of having reliable depth at the position which the Cavs hope to have done with the signing of Lopez.
The tape shows that RoLo can still get the job done when called upon as he scored in double figures in seven of his nine starts last season, peaking with a 20-point, 10-rebound performance in a win over the Brooklyn Nets back on Dec. 18, 2021. He typically makes the most out of his opportunities and still plays with a youthful exuberance even at age 34.
He doesn’t move as nimbly as he once did but you can’t teach size and Lopez knows exactly how to use his. This is especially apparent on the offensive glass where he finished last season ranked within the 72nd percentile among bigs despite only pulling down a grand total of 3.5 rebounds per game. To take it a step further, his 1.9 offensive rebounds per contest would’ve ranked 3rd on the team right behind Allen (3.4) and Mobley (2.1). This is an area in which he can definitely be impactful if given enough playing time.
He saw the court for a total 592 minutes though his 36 appearances with Orlando last season and lined up exclusively at the five. With the depth that Cleveland currently has, there is no indication that’ll change heading into the 2022-23 campaign. Alas, finding minutes outside of mop-up duty may be a tall task considering that Bickerstaff very rarely went past a nine man rotation last season.
With this being the case, it is highly likely that Lopez finds himself glued to the bench at times this season. That is by no means a bad thing. Cleveland knows all too well what depth at the five can mean to a team and they could do much worse than to have a proven option waiting in the wings.