Milwaukee Bucks: Robin Lopez proves to be exactly what was needed

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 8: (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 8: (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

Last offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks signed Robin Lopez to be their backup center. Has he lived up to expectations so far?

Going into last offseason, finding depth at the center position was a top priority for the Milwaukee Bucks. After re-signing Brook Lopez, the Bucks desperately needed a backup center who could step in and fill the role of defensive anchor while Brook went to the bench. Who better to fill that role than Brook’s twin brother, Robin Lopez?

On July 12, 2019, the Milwaukee Bucks and Robin Lopez agreed on a two-year contract worth $9.77 million; the second year being a player option for just over $5 million. This agreement was the first step in solidifying the second unit while maintaining a strong defensive presence when Brook rests.

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Despite being unaccustomed to playing so few minutes, Robin has adjusted wonderfully to the backup center role. His defensive skillset and 11 years of NBA experience have allowed him to fit in seamlessly to Mike Budenholzer’s drop-back defensive scheme. In this scheme, Robin is able to do what he does best, protect the rim.

While the smaller defenders funnel opponents inside, Robin is able to roam the paint and deter shots at the rim. It’s a perfect role for a big guy like him who doesn’t have the quickness to keep up with smaller players on the perimeter.

Of the players who played a majority of the season (in this instance, I used >45 games played), Robin has held opponents to 44.1 percent shooting within six feet of the rim. Interestingly enough, that’s the identical percentage that his identical twin brother allows, ranking them second in the league behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Robin has certainly made sure there’s no drop-off in rim protection when Brook leaves the court, which is exactly what the Bucks had hoped for. That being said, Robin has certainly lived up to expectations defensively.

As for his performance offensively, his impact has been just as expected. Although his raw numbers are lower due to his decrease in minutes, his numbers per 36 minutes are right on par with his career averages. His current production per-36 is 13.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. Not too shabby for a backup center who’s more known for his defense.

To go along with his smooth hook shot and low-post game, Robin has added the three-pointer to his repertoire. In the Bucks’ “let-it-fly” offense, Robin has increased his three-point attempts to 1.6 per game in limited minutes, up from only 0.4 per game last year. On those attempts, Robin has raised his three-point percentage to 34.4 percent from 22.6 percent last year.

That type of offensive production has been nothing but icing on the cake for the Bucks. His feuds with mascots, three-point celebrations, and pregame WWE routines are the cherry on top.

With everything that Robin Lopez has provided for this team, it’s easy to conclude that he’s outperformed his expectations. And as our site editor, Adam McGee, recently outlined, it sure looks like he’ll be picking up that player option to return to Milwaukee next year.

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Bucks management and fans alike should be excited to enjoy another year of the Robin Lopez experience.