While his reinvention as a seven-foot sharpshooter has been critical to his success with the Milwaukee Bucks, Brook Lopez‘s long-standing post-game has been an effective weapon in its own right.
Throughout their 52 years of existence, no free agent addition has held a bigger impact upon their arrival to the Milwaukee Bucks than veteran big man Brook Lopez.
Lopez’s sharpshooting reinvention had begun a couple of years before joining the Bucks last summer, but it was in Milwaukee where the influence of his floor spacing was most felt, in terms of his own and the team’s success.
Not only was it critical in shaping the five-out system that head coach Mike Budenholzer implemented upon his own arrival to Milwaukee last year, but also in how it’s maintaining his career longevity, as is only starting to be felt now.
It’s also been noticed league-wide and Lopez is reaping the benefits, in terms of being able to represent his country with Team USA for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, which will tip off later this month in China, provided Lopez makes the final roster.
With all that said, the flashes we saw when Lopez would retreat back to his old bread and butter last year, that being his post-game, was an effective asset, especially in the moments whern the Bucks’ offense broke down.
Lopez’s size, strength, and skilled footwork, as well as ball handling abilities, all combined to make him a productive post-scoring threat, most notably during his nine-year stint with the Brooklyn Nets, before the pace and space takeover forced him and others of his mold around the league to refashion their skill set.
While that facet of his game isn’t as pronounced as it once was, Lopez has shown that his former standout trait hasn’t withered over time and in spite of his personal three-point revolution. Per NBA.com/stats, Lopez tallied 1.04 points per possession in the 77 possessions where he attempted to score from the post last season, a mark that ranked him in the 77th percentile of players around the league.
The basis of the Bucks’ read-and react offense has centered around garnering efficient scoring opportunities from both the three-point line and at the basket. But when all else fails, Lopez’s low post scoring was a vital element in their high-powered offense, specifically in the times when attacking mismatches was necessary.
But as much as his skill set has transformed and is now based around the three-point line, Lopez has found other ways to showcase his size and skilled handles to take defenders off the dribble.
In the 171 possessions that ended with Lopez driving to the rack last season, the 31-year-old converted 62.2 percent of his 98 scoring attempts in such situations. Those glacial drives, as they have been referred to by long-time Bucks fans, stood as an unforeseen, but fruitful feature in Lopez’s arsenal of skills to attack opponents.
It certainly was crucial to Lopez’s clutch performances in the Bucks’ playoff run as he was the team’s scoring leader in those opportunities at 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field (2-for-4 from deep, 4-for-4 from the line) in 29 total clutch minutes.
The 11-year veteran has outshone most of his peers when it comes to reworking his skill set to fit the demands of the modern NBA at the center position on both ends of the floor. And for all the progress he’s made on that front, there is still room to grow in Lopez becoming an even greater high-volume three-point threat as he continues his stay in Milwaukee after re-upping on a four-year, $52 million deal on the opening day of free agency.
But Lopez is far from a one-trick pony and his multi-faceted offensive game will still be of use to the Bucks as they look to run it back next season with a shot at contending for an NBA title.