Milwaukee Bucks: Ranking top 5 moves of Jon Horst’s tenure

SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 24: (Photo by Will Navarro/NBAE via Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 24: (Photo by Will Navarro/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – DECEMBER 22: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – DECEMBER 22: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

2. Signing Brook Lopez in free agency

Who would have thought that a $3.4 million signing could change the scope of the Bucks’ core as we knew it? Yet that’s exactly what happened when the Bucks signed veteran center Brook Lopez a week into free agency back in the summer of 2018.

Not since the days of Andrew Bogut did the Bucks have a viable, long-term starting center holding down the back line, despite plenty of rich deals to players such as the aforementioned Monroe and Larry Sanders (or LARRY SANDERS! as ESPN’s Zach Lowe once affectionally referred to him during his peak) that failed to pay off in any meaningful way.

It took a lot of dominoes to fall for the Bucks to add Lopez through free agency like the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly closing the door on extending the 32-year-old’s stint in LA after his one-year run during the 2017-18 season.

Of course, the Lakers weren’t the only team to pass on adding Lopez as all 28 other teams either failed to recognize his transformation into a highly valuable stretch-5 or just didn’t want to make any financial commitment with the Stanford product. What was the league’s collective disinterest towards Lopez was, in turn, the Bucks’ gain.

By adding Lopez, the Bucks got the exact center that was needed to catalyze their total reinvention as his ability to hit from outside cemented the Bucks’ five-out offense. And Lopez has been equally instrumental in the Bucks’ defensive overhaul and currently stands as a worthy Defensive Player of the Year candidate for the 2019-20 season.

Not for nothing, but Lopez turned what was essentially his ‘prove it’ deal into a four-year, $52 million contract with the Bucks last summer to extend his stay in Milwaukee long-term.

Lopez’s arrival to Milwaukee and the various factors that played into it before and after would normally top off any other list. But one more addition from the summer of 2018 was crucial to making the team’s recent success possible.