Milwaukee Bucks: Robin Lopez stays steady, no matter the role changes

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 04 (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 04 (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Robin Lopez has made his mark during his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks, but it’s been in his spot starts where he’s been able to deliver some of his finest moments this year.

Filling the shoes of any starter for the Milwaukee Bucks on nights where they’re down a key contributor is no easy task, but doing so for your twin brother as Robin Lopez has done at times this season is a familiar proposition.

Playing in Milwaukee has given the Lopez brothers an opportunity to play with one another for the first time since their collective time at Stanford University more than a decade ago, and has subsequently given all Bucks fans a close look at their entertaining interplay with one another as the year has gone on.

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Putting aside their ever-present sibling rivalry, Robin has fulfilled a solid role within a Bucks team that has its sights on crafting one of the best seasons in league history.

And the role that the younger Lopez brother has under head coach Mike Budenholzer can change from night to night, depending on the team’s performance, matching up against their opponent and so on. It’s also included making spot starts in place of Brook Lopez on nights where he’s sidelined.

Take Robin’s performance in the Bucks’ win over the Washington Wizards Monday night, for example.

The Bucks didn’t miss a beat with their usual reserve center on the floor more extensively as his rim protection, which has been fantastic all year long, gave the Bucks the spine they needed to deliver some resistance on that side of the ball against a hungry, yet flawed Wizards team. That was especially the case when Lopez miraculously swatted away what would have been an easy finish for Wizards forward Rui Hachimura near the end of regulation and Lopez’s game-saving heroics helped send the game to overtime.

And on the offensive end, Robin offered up some much needed splashes compared to his brother Brook, who is still searching to break through his season-long shooting slump. After going 3-for-4 from long distance against Washington, Robin has leapfrogged over Brook with his 31.3 3-point percentage for the season and has now gone 6-of-10 from 3-point range over his three spot starts.

Small sample size alert, but when Robin plays alongside the Bucks’ four regular starters in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, Wesley Matthews and Khris Middleton, that five-man lineup has a +45.5 net rating in 28 minutes this season, per

Not only does that mark speak to the talent of the Bucks’ core and starting lineup, it also casts a light on Lopez’s team-first nature that has been consistent throughout all of his stints around the league over his 12-year career.

In a year where Lopez has had his playing time severely reduced, and will earn the fewest minutes he’s had since becoming a full-time starter back in the 2012-13 season, he’s taken such sacrifices in great stride, all in the name of fulfilling his championship aspirations. The latter fact helps ease such role transformations, but it’s not always an easy proposition to swallow for a player of Lopez’s experience and ability.

Those abilities have been on display when Lopez is on the floor where he’s been able to maintain the Bucks’ historic interior defense by limiting opponents to a 44.5 field goal percentage on shots taken within six feet of the basket this season.

And Lopez’s budding ability to space the floor has been unleashed under Budenholzer and the team’s coaching staff and the ups and downs Lopez’s had in trying to integrate that element into his game only adds to sacrifices he’s made in attempt to make his mark on the court.

But between the camaraderie with his teammates, which can be seen in their nightly pre-game wrestling routines and pseudo matches, there’s no question Lopez has made his mark on the Bucks over his first season in Milwaukee. And as he told Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel following the Bucks’ win over the Wizards, he feels a real kinship with everyone up and down the roster:

"“What I love about being on this team is everybody has everybody’s backs, it feels like. We feel connected in a way some other teams may not be.”"

While the glowing chemistry the Bucks have built was apparent last season as well, Lopez, along with all of the new additions from last offseason, have put their own special twist on the collective bond all Bucks players have for one another as they pursue their common goal of winning an NBA championship.

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Whether the Bucks can fulfill those hopes remains to be seen, but Lopez will be ready every step along the way, waiting to hear his number called.