Milwaukee Bucks: Why Brook Lopez’s free throw shooting is key

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 04: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 04: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Brook Lopez’s shooting regression has been a key storyline for the Milwaukee Bucks this season, but his free throw efficiency may be critical on multiple fronts.

As the NBA is looking to restart their 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World, the Milwaukee Bucks will be hoping to get their Splash Mountain working back in order.

A year after standing as a huge catalyst behind the Bucks’ 3-point awakening, Brook Lopez has journeyed through a tough shooting slump that has cast a pall on his offensive production this year.

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When we last left Lopez, the veteran big man was averaging 11 points on a .427/.296/.810 slash line through his 61 appearances on the season. Lopez’s 53.7 true shooting percentage stands as the lowest mark he’s totaled for a full season throughout his 12-year career.

Despite some flashes and trademark shooting outbursts here and there, Lopez’s lengthy slump showed no signs of turning around before the season suspension.

Yet, as the Bucks prepare to kick on their pursuit for a champion again, the free throw line may be the key to Lopez being able to regain his deadly shooting stroke.

The fact that Lopez has been able to convert from the foul line to the degree that he has does inspire some hope that the 32-year-old’s shot is far from broken, given that strong free throw efficiency is a good indicator for such a thing. And hitting above his 79.2 career free throw percentage only reinforces that.

Given the length of Brook Lopez’s shooting slump throughout the Milwaukee Bucks’ incredible run over the regular season, getting high-percentage looks will be been needed for him more than ever.

And while Lopez’s trips to the free throw line have significantly gone down since his transformation as a stretch-5, Lopez has been able to log the bulk of his free throw trips in some interesting ways.

Take Lopez’s dribble drive game, for example, which has been an increasingly potent weapon throughout his Bucks stint. Lopez has been able to draw a foul on 18.5 percent on his 81 driving attempts this season, which leads the team, per

While Lopez’s raw field goal efficiency on such plays comes in at 49.4 percent this year, the fact that Lopez has been able to absorb contact to get to the charity stripe has helped him log a 93.3 points percentage in such situations. When you look at players that have averaged one driving attempt per game and reach that points percentage mark, Lopez leads a rare group of centers throughout the league.

Combining that with Lopez dusting off his back to the basket game to great effect throughout the year, it’s been the simple things that have helped Lopez keep his offensive production and scoring output afloat throughout a trying season individually. And on the post up front, Lopez has been able to draw a shooting foul on 9.2 percent of his post up possessions this year.

With the important matchups that will come in the coming weeks and months, the Bucks will be hoping that Lopez’s floor spacing will be paired with a strong turnaround shooting the ball.

But the value that Lopez has been able to provide, whether off the dribble or on the block, gives the Bucks a worthy option to generate quality shots late in the shot clock or when the game slows down for a Bucks team that plays at a faster pace than any other team.

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Many questions will surround the Bucks as they will be set for Orlando late next month and among them, whether Lopez’s offensive productivity will turn around will be among the biggest that will affect the outcome of this strange season.