Milwaukee Bucks: Brook Lopez’s underrated ability to score off of drives

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

Brook Lopez’s varied offensive game gets plenty of attention with the Milwaukee Bucks, but his ability to score off drives remains underrated.

When you think about the offensive game of Milwaukee Bucks‘ center Brook Lopez, there are likely a couple of elements that immediately spring to mind.

Since joining Milwaukee, Lopez has become known for his incredible willingness to let fly from much further beyond the arc than any other seven footer in the NBA seems comfortable with.

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Prior to that, Brook had carved out a successful career, primarily with the Nets, as one of the league’s most skilled volume scorers on the interior, having mastered how best to utilize his size and footwork in the post.

There is another bow in Lopez’s quiver, so to speak, even though it’s one that may surprise those who don’t watch the veteran center play on a regular basis.

That is, Lopez is a particularly impressive scorer off of drives, cutting a much more imposing figure on those play types than most would associate with a player of his size and physical limitations.

When Brook and his twin brother Robin Lopez spoke to Ros Gold-Onwude of ESPN in recent days, Robin was quick to note how impressed and surprised he’d been by Brook as a driver since getting an up close look at him this season:

"“I hadn’t seen him play consistently for a long time, so that’s been a lot of fun seeing him play night in and night out in Milwaukee. It’s impressive how he takes the ball from the perimeter to the basket to score. It’s weird to see him beat people off the dribble, because neither of us are quick. I don’t know if it’s akin to some kind of baseball pitcher’s change up or something, where he’s moving so slow that the defender just doesn’t know what to anticipate. But he’s somehow able to get behind the guy and score. It seems like it goes against all laws of physics.”"

Lopez’s slow drives have long been described as “glacial” by The Athletic’s Eric Nehm, and there’s certainly something to Robin’s comparison to a change up pitch.

The truth is Brook’s increased threat from behind the arc has opened up the floor for him, creating these opportunities to catch opponents off guard with his drives as they overcorrect to guard against his shooting. With Brook’s shot a little off this season, the truth is Robin hasn’t even seen his brother’s driving at its very best so far this season.

Per, Brook has scored on 52 percent of his 50 driving shot attempts in the 2019-20 season so far. While that percentage certainly represents a positive for a center in its own right, last year when his shot was falling at a much higher rate, Brook made an astonishing 73.9 percent of his 79 attempts off of drives.

Speaking to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel back in December of 2018, Brook revealed that capitalizing on such driving opportunities had been the focus of his personalized daily vitamin workouts prescribed by Coach Budenholzer and his staff:

"“It’s something we’ve just been doing a lot in vitamins, just reading what the defense gives me,” Lopez said, referring to individualized workouts at practice. “Guys like Giannis and Bled, they do such a good job drawing the defense. A lot of times guys are closing hard and so it’s just making the read.”"

Lopez has enjoyed a truly phenomenal defensive season in the current campaign, and one which should see him claim All-Defensive honors, as well as featuring in the top-3 of voting for Defensive Player of the Year. But this should act as a reminder of just how much more he can do offensively. With a dip in his shooting percentage, another one of Brook’s emerging offensive weapons has also been somewhat nullified.

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If the current season was to resume with Lopez having regained his shooting touch, it would be a game-changer for Milwaukee. Not just for the damage he’d do from three, but also for how it could spur on his stellar driving game.