The Nets did two things for Brook Lopez this off-season: they signed him to a four-year, $60.8 million contract and signed two bigs to challenge him in practice: Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans. Lopez has admitted the two have been "beating him up" regularly.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today profiles Lopez on Thursday and writes that the addition of two talented (in different ways) bigs has pushed the Nets' seven-footer in ways he wasn't pushed in his first four seasons, all of them losing. "He's had to raise the level of his practice habits because of the competition," Avery Johnson said, hinting Lopez hasn't always had the best practice habits.