Robin Lopez stopped Wizards practice on Saturday, in the middle of a drill, to deliver a message to his teammates.
"We've gotta hit somebody before you go get the ball," he said, according to head coach Scott Brooks.
No, it wasn't a reference to his feud with G-Wiz. Lopez was giving a lesson to his teammates about the art of rebounding.
Lopez is expected to make a big difference for the Wizards in that area, having last year led the NBA in box-outs per 36 minutes. He may not grab the board himself, but he's as good as anyone at clearing space so that others can.
Lopez is really good at boxing out, and he knows people are impressed by that.
"I know it’s an extremely desirable talent from the youngins’ all the way to the elders. Everybody loves boxing out. It’s their favorite thing to talk about. It’s a sexy thing, really, when you figure out how to do it," he said.
Lopez also said more serious things about rebounding. He said boxing out is all about "leveraging whatever size you have."
Brooks also went into detail about how Lopez will help the Wizards improve their rebounding. They were 28th in the NBA last season in total rebounding and dead-last in rebounding percentage.
"He has the physicality, he has the size. He’s a big body that is not easy to get around," Brooks said.
"If we want to be a good rebounding team, we can’t just hope that the ball falls into our hands. We’ve gotta go hit, get physical and then go chase the ball down. I think he does a good job of keeping his man from getting it and it opens up opportunities for our quicker players to get in there and get those rebounds."
Brooks went on to say Lopez moving opposing players out of the lane will create lanes for guards like Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal to grab boards. Westbrook is arguably the best rebounding point guard in NBA history, having averaged 7.1 rebounds for his career and three times averaging double-digits despite standing 6-foot-3.
Brooks believes Westbrook and Beal "should be able to get 12-to-15 rebounds any given night." We assume he means combined, but you never know when Westbrook is involved.