Milwaukee Bucks: Robin Lopez solidifies the team’s defensive pedigree

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 15: (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 15: (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

One of the headlining additions the Milwaukee Bucks made this offseason, Robin Lopez brings many of the same qualities that the team covets defensively as they’ll look to be the cream of the crop again in that regard next season.

After spending several seasons of trying to find a long-term center solution, the Milwaukee Bucks walked into their answer in what proved to the most critical on-court personnel move of their identity makeover last offseason.

The addition of Brook Lopez gave the Bucks the exact complement of skills, size and intangibles needed to make the entire system overhaul that head coach Mike Budenholzer was eager to implement upon his hiring earlier in the team’s offseason last year.

More from Bucks News

All of that resulted in a hefty pay rise after being the biggest free agent bargain last year and Lopez secured his long-term stay in Milwaukee by re-upping with the Bucks this summer on a four-year, $52 million deal on the opening day of free agency.

Now his twin brother, Robin Lopez, will look to offer a similar answer to the Bucks in an effort to solidify the team’s depth and overall capabilities. Having taken a more winding path throughout his 11-year career than Brook, Robin may not stand as skilled as his sharpshooting brother.

With that said, he’s grown into being an effective, starting caliber big man in his own right over his stops with the Phoenix Suns, the then-New Orleans Hornets, the Portland Trail Blazers, the New York Knicks and most recently, the Chicago Bulls.

After the Bucks made a point to retain many of the critical starters and key reserves that all contributed to their remarkable 2018-19 campaign, save for Malcolm Brogdon, Lopez stood as the first of the veteran reinforcements the Bucks added via free agency, upon agreeing to a two-year deal worth the team’s room exception at $9.7 million (a player option is included in the second year of Lopez’s deal).

With other roster needs present at the time, including how to fill the void of Brogdon’s departure, which has since been addressed between Kyle Korver and Lopez’s former Blazers teammate, Wesley Matthews, the addition of the 31-year-old may have looked a curious one to some Bucks fans.

But the benefits of bringing in Robin will be apparent early on, especially after the Bucks cycled through a number of options behind Brook all throughout the season last year. That will be especially apparent on the defensive end. Like Brook, Robin brings the same mixture of size, length, strength and sound defensive techniques that have been synonymous with the twins’ games throughout their respective time in the NBA.

Historically, Robin has been very productive and impactful on the defensive side of the ball, between his ability to corral boards as well as his prowess to protect the rim.

Regarding the former, although Lopez has pulled down 4.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes over his NBA career, the Stanford alum has always been willing to size up and box out opposing big men for his team to snare down loose balls and/or misses. Per, Lopez averaged 5.1 box outs per game defensively last season and that translated to the Bulls collecting 3.5 team rebounds per game under such situations.

For a Bucks team that underwent an incredible turnaround year over year and ranked second in defensive rebounding percentage by season’s end, the addition of Lopez will give the squad another big body and the requisite size to maintain their standing near the top of the league in that regard.

As it relates to his rim protection, Lopez has blocked 1.9 shots per 36 minutes across his stops around the NBA. What may be more tantalizing is his ability to alter shots made within reach of the basket from opposing players as he posted a 53 defended field goal percentage on the 5.1 shots he saw on average within six feet of the bucket last season.

That will help the Bucks and Budenholzer be able to continue their preference for big men to drop back and defend the rim while the likes of Eric Bledsoe and George Hill or any other Bucks wing/perimeter player manuevers around screens and locks in on opposing ball handlers.

Not only is that good news for Budenholzer and the rest of his coaching staff, but it will allow Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to continue excelling in his role as the team’s free safety where his wide-ranging, versatile skill set shines at its best as we saw all throughout last season.

Next. Bucks: Selecting an All-Decade roster. dark

While we’ll just have to wait and see how Robin adjusts to spacing the floor and testing his three-point range more frequently, his skill set on the defensive end will surely fit in with what the Bucks are setting out to achieve next season.