Milwaukee Bucks: Looking at how Brook Lopez can regain shooting touch

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 27: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 27: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks big man Brook Lopez suffered through a season-long shooting slump this year, but can he regain his shooting skills in future seasons?

Nobody saw the tough shooting season Brook Lopez has had for the Milwaukee Bucks coming,  and certainly not Lopez himself.

In the first year into his four-year, $52 million contract, Lopez spent the vast majority of the 2019-20 season searching for the long range shooting that instantly catalyzed the Bucks’ five-out offense over the course of his first campaign in Milwaukee the previous year.

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Of course, Lopez’s 29.6 3-point percentage was quite the blight on his scoring output, but it really was the culprit of this season being the least efficient one of Lopez’s 12-year NBA career as evidenced by his 53.7 true shooting percentage.

The fact that Lopez’s subpar shooting didn’t alter the Bucks’ total offensive efficiency was remarkable in and of itself, and he managed to rediscover his post game to scrounge up points on the block in the times the Bucks flipped their offense inwards.

But with this being the first season of considerable shooting struggles for Lopez since his reinvention as a seven-foot sniper, one could only wonder whether this is a sign of things to come or a blip on the radar.

Lopez’s precipitous drop-off is only made more significant by the level of efficiency he posted throughout the 2018-19 season where he knocked in a career-high 36.5 percent of his threes and posted a 59.7 true shooting percentage, all while averaging 12.5 points per game.

Going from such a high to such a low didn’t come about through a different approach on Lopez’s part, or opposing defenses directing attention his way, especially with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo rampaging his way down the lane.

Per, Lopez’s 3-point percentage on wide-open shots, which is on attempts with the closest defender six-plus feet away, was 29.2 percent. That’s down from the 37.2 percent Lopez hit on wide-open triples during the previous year and Lopez hadn’t shot lower than 33.2 percent on wide-open threes back during the 2016-17 season since his sharpshooting reinvention.

Where we can project any possible regression for Lopez or shooting uptick in the future, look no further than that area of Lopez’s shooting repertoire that would undoubtedly be the biggest reason for such a thing.

And considering that the bulk of Lopez’s 3-point attempts come from well beyond the arc at above the break, recalibrating his range will be imperative as he shot 30 percent on his 217 attempts on shots attempted from 25 to 29 feet.

This is certainly where Lopez’s struggles playing for Team USA during the FIBA World Cup certainly foreshadowed the shooting year he went on to have this season, and adjusting to the FIBA line also can’t be forgotten in this regard.

Fortunately, we know that Lopez’s floor spacing exists in a structure and system that has fully optimized Antetokounmpo as well as Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton to create a number of kick-out threes that shooters, like Lopez, need to knock down.

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Barring any major change in personnel or elsewhere, Lopez will have that fall back and be able to control any and all clean looks that come his way on a nightly basis. Then it’s all about seeing the ball go through the hoop.