Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
Birthday: April 1, 1988
Experience: 3 years
Draft: 2008, 15th overall by Phoenix
2011-12 Salary: $2,862,602
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2011-12 Season Outlook: The Suns want Robin Lopez to forget 2011-12 ever happened as it was a disaster year in every way. Before the season Alvin Gentry predicted a breakout year, saying Lopez would be the second-most important player on the Suns. Instead he was barely the second-most important center as he turned into an athletic center who lost his athleticism. His rebounding and shot blocking suffered, and Lopez was often rejected at the rim. He lost his starting job to Marcin Gortat as nothing quite went right for RoLo last season.
It’s clear Lopez was still suffering from the aftereffects of his back ailment last season, but the question is whether the injury robbed him of his athleticism for good or just temporarily. During training camp Lopez looked like a different player and Gentry proclaimed him “officially healthy,” as his explosion and vertical leap seem to be back. Lopez also said he feels mentally stronger after suffering from mental problems last year as well.
The Suns are optimistic that this means Lopez will return to the path that made him such a promising big man in 2009-10. If so, the Suns would be able to trot out a pair of quality centers, the kind of advantage that could spur the team to a surprising season. Without the pressure of being the center of the future anymore, Lopez could yet become one of the best backup centers in the league if his athleticism truly has returned. – Michael Schwartz
Biography: Robin Lopez played two years as the overshadowed twin to Brook Lopez at Stanford University before being drafted 15th overall by the Suns in 2008. The North Hollywood native only averaged 8.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 bpg in 67 career games as a Cardinal, but catapulted into the top 15 due to his athleticism, defensive prowess and size.
Those traits didn’t translate his rookie year as Lopez averaged only 3.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 60 games. He finally caught on with more confidence and a larger role in his second year and is now the Suns’ starting center. Lopez is quite the competitor, showing a fire that often results in temper tantrums and broken practice court doors. But although he can be quite intense, Lopez is a Disney movie addict and a film enthusiast. He is also a huge fan of comic books, writing, volleyball, drawing and swimming.
Links to ValleyoftheSuns coverage of Lopez: