WESTWEGO, La. – Robin Lopez spent the past four seasons playing basketball for the Phoenix Suns, a franchise known for run-and-gun tactics and little defense.
And he didn’t fit in.
A month ago, however, Lopez’s world changed and, listening to him, it did so for the better.
The Hornets acquired Lopez, along with forward Hakim Warrick, in a trade with the Suns.
And suddenly, Lopez is on a team known for methodical possessions on offense and stout defense.
“With the exception of Phoenix, in college and high school I always played with low-scoring successful teams,” Lopez said Thursday, his first public comments since the July 27 trade. “I was always more of a defensive kind of grind-it-out player and I think that is something I can definitely get accustomed to here.”
Even better for Lopez is that he could team in the post with No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis, a defensive beast in his one year at the University of Kentucky that led the Wildcats to a national title.
“From what I’ve seen of him, he’s fantastic,” Lopez said. “He’s got great timing, long athletic. I don’t think I’m too bad of a defensive player so we make a heck of a tandem down there on the defensive end. Hopefully we can kind of close down some lanes.”
The 7-foot, 255-pounder gives the Hornets a true center after the team traded Emeka Okafor to Washington for a draft pick in this past June’s event.
Lopez doesn’t come without a question mark about the health of his knee. He played on a bad knee a season ago, averaging a career-low 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.
After getting to New Orleans, he underwent successful surgery to repair the medial meniscus in his left knee. As of now, though, Lopez said he’s on the road to full recovery.
“I wasn’t what I should have been,” Lopez said. “I wasn’t up to par I guess, so that can be rough. So being almost healthy right now, or definitely being on that course, that’s very exciting for me. Right now, I feel great.”
Lopez is happy to have a fresh start and, so far, he likes what he sees in the Hornets.
“We’ve got a young, energetic group,” Lopez said. “The good thing is we got some youth that has a little bit of experience as well. If you look at their age you wouldn’t necessarily assume that but it’s true and hopefully we can parlay that into something special.”
The Hornets will host a select-a-seat event on Saturday morning beginning at 10 o'clock. Fans will be able to choose their seats for the 2012-13 season, including both full season and half season packages.