Milwaukee Bucks: Brook Lopez challenging for title of NBA’s blocks leader

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 27: (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 27: (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

As the Milwaukee Bucks approach the halfway mark of the season, center Brook Lopez is in the hunt for the NBA’s blocks lead.

After arriving to the Milwaukee Bucks in free agency in the summer of 2018, Brook Lopez spent his first season in Wisconsin establishing himself as a clear focal point of the team’s reworked, league-best defense.

Averaging 2.2 blocks per game in 2018-19, Lopez set a new career-best mark, which also illustrated his wider impact in providing a particularly imposing brand of defending the rim.

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With a year of thriving in that role under his belt, it always seemed like a possibility that Lopez could kick on and be even more productive as a shot-blocker this year.

Just a day before the start of the season, I made the case that whether Brook could actually go on to achieve it or not, his aim this year should be to lead the league in blocked shots.

The number I laid down as a marker that seemed realistic for Lopez, and also one that reliably puts a player in the mix for being the NBA’s leader in blocked shots, was 2.5 blocks per game.

Now, having played 34 of the Bucks’ 36 games to this point in the year, that’s exactly the mark that Lopez currently finds himself at.

That means Lopez is currently second in the NBA in both blocks per game and total blocks, with only Hassan Whiteside ahead of him in both categories.

Whiteside has 88 blocks to Lopez’s 85 at present, which on a per game basis translates to Whiteside averaging 2.8 blocks per game.

That gives the Portland Trail Blazers center a comfortable but far from insurmountable lead, and should offer plenty of motivation for Lopez on an individual level as the season progresses.

Much like all of his teammates, Lopez will undoubtedly refuse to put any individual goals over the Bucks’ collective aim of winning a championship over the remainder of the season. But there’s no reason to believe both of those goals can’t work in tandem either.

Last season, Lopez had seven games where he blocked five shots or more, while in this current campaign he has already managed that feat on six occasions already.

At a minimum, it would seem like another career-best mark for Lopez in terms of blocks per game may end up being something of a formality at this point. Considering the great change in the profile of Brook’s game in his latter years as a pro, it would be fitting if he was to find himself picking up notable accolades to mark that transition.

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In spite of his shot-blocking, there was a time when Lopez’s defensive reputation was far from stellar. Much like the change in his status from high volume low post scorer to one of the league’s most willing long-range shooters, a season as blocks leader on Brook’s résumé would act as a fitting testament to the work he’s put into reworking his game over the past few seasons.