Bucks back to basketball profile: Brook Lopez
With the announcement of the NBA’s 22-team plan to close out the rest of the season, the Milwaukee Bucks are waiting for late July when play restarts in Disney World. It will undoubtedly be an odd postseason experience, but if Milwaukee can be at its best in the bubble then it will be tough to beat.
As coach Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks prepare during this hiatus, FOX Sports Wisconsin will analyze each player on the Bucks and what their role might be in the playoffs.
This edition: Brook Lopez
Lopez entered the NBA in 2008 as a prototypical center with the New Jersey Nets. He was well-suited for that role and averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game during his nine seasons with the Nets and earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie first team in 2009 and an All-Star Game appearance in 2013. He mainly shied away from the 3-point arc until his final season in Brooklyn (2016-17), when he took 5.2 attempts per game and connected on 34.6%.
Lopez had a one-year pitstop with the Los Angeles Lakers the following season, then signed with Milwaukee in 2018 and became a solid complementary scoring option and hit a career-high 36.5% of his shots from long range.
After signing a four-year deal worth $52 million this past offseason, Lopez has not quite returned to his form in the 2018-19 season. While his numbers and 3-point shooting have dipped some, he is still a smart and effective defender – his 99 Defensive Rating (via basketball-reference) is a career best — and a solid scoring threat.
GAME TO REMEMBER
There’s of course a few to choose from but no contest sums up Lopez’s “Splash Mountain” nickname this season better than his performance on Dec. 21 at New York. In just 27 minutes, Lopez had 14 points – knocking down 4-of-8 3-point attempts – with seven rebounds and seven blocks.
WHAT TO EXPECT THIS SUMMER
With the Bucks eyeing their first NBA championship since 1971, the margins will undoubtedly be thin and Lopez’s offensive skills could be just what the Bucks need. The team already has the scoring capabilities of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, but if they want to end the season victorious then Lopez will have to be the dependable fourth option in the postseason.
Ultimately, Lopez’s 3-point shooting could be the x-factor that determines Milwaukee’s season, and even though this season has not been his best from long range, Lopez has proved that he can knock down 3-pointers in big spots. All he needs to do is get hot. In March before things shut down, Lopez averaged 14.2 points per game on 48.1% shooting including 36.4% from 3 – all his highest totals for any month this season.