Robin Lopez played with Anthony Davis in New Orleans when Davis was a rookie in 2012-13, and Lopez, now with Portland, couldn’t believe what he saw.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Lopez said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I had only met him once before. But I was completely blown away by how intelligent, how professional he was (with everything).”
And now he’s amazed at how flat-out good Davis is.
Davis was solid as a rookie, averaging 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Well, those numbers increased to 20.8, 10.0 and 2.8, respectively, last season, and they’re even better this season. Davis, who had 31 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in a loss at Portland on Monday, is now averaging career highs across the board: 25.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.9 blocks.
Oh, and he’s still only 21.
“Obviously he has all the physical tools,” Lopez said, “so when you combine it with that mental game, it kind of gets a little unfair to a point.
Lopez, to his credit, has been more than solid for Portland this season. He’s averaging 11.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks and has helped Portland to an 8-3 record.
The Trail Blazers got off to an incredible start last season before finishing with the fifth seed in West. They knocked off Houston in a thrilling six-game series before eventually losing to San Antonio, which went on to win the championship. But with Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge once again playing quality basketball – both are averaging 20+ points per game – Portland figures to be in the playoff mix once more.
Only this time, it won’t be surprising.
“We have to play like we’re still the underdogs,” Lopez said. “We can’t become too complacent.”
Lopez, of course, has a twin brother, Brook, who plays for the Nets. The brothers played together at Stanford but obviously do not see each other as often now that they’re not on the same team. They do, however, manage to keep in touch via social media and the occasional phone call.
“Whenever we talk, we always cut to the chase,” Lopez said. “If we have to call each other, it’ll be 15-second, 30-second calls. It’s only for the essentials. That’s kind of how it is all the time.”
But have no fear: the brothers get along – for the most part. Lopez said that he and Brook haven’t gotten into a physical fight since the sixth or seventh grade, but verbal ones?
“All the time,” Lopez said, laughing. “My friends always have to separate us.”
Lopez also shared his thoughts on the Lakers (2-9), who figure to have one of the worst records in basketball this year.
“It’s interesting,” said Lopez, a North Hollywood native. “It was tough for me to hear that that was their worst record in franchise history last season. Growing up, my older brothers always talked about the Showtime Lakers. They grew up during that era. You always expected them to be at the peak or near the top of the mountain. To have them go through some growing pains, which is natural for most teams, you just don’t expect it. So it’s something a little different for them.”
And what about Kobe Bryant, who leads the league in scoring (27.4 points per game) – even though he’s just shooting just 38.9 percent from the floor?
“He’s one of the best to ever do it,” Lopez said. “He’s going to go out there. If he’s got no legs, he’s going to still try to be out there playing basketball. He’s going to do it until the day they lock him up. You got to respect that.”