Milwaukee Bucks: Regrading the important Brook Lopez signing

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 06 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 06 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Brook Lopez
Jul 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Going into his fourth season as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, it feels like Brook Lopez has been with the team longer than that at this point. He’s been an incredibly vital part of the Bucks’ success over the last four seasons, helping change the team’s identity as well as his own in the process.

Before joining the Bucks, most probably knew Lopez best as a dominant paint presence offensively with the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets franchise (where he is still the franchise’s all-time leading scorer) who even made an All-Star appearance in 2012-13. I don’t think many who watch the big man back then would have predicted what he’d become, especially at 33 years old.

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Lopez has transformed himself, with the help of head coach Mike Budenholzer, into a dominant paint presence but on the defensive side of the ball while taking a lot of 3 point jumpers and hanging out around the perimeter, so Giannis Antetokounmpo can dominate the offensive paint.

There are still some flaws and holes in Lopez’s game, but what he brings overall is very positive. This past season, many questioned if Lopez was still the player Bucks fans had come to love in his first two seasons.

Through the midst of the Bucks experimenting with new defensive coverages, specifically switching more one-through-five, Lopez struggled with his speed and not being able to keep up. Well, that certainly changed in the playoffs.

It has been really fun to see the narrative around Lopez’s game shift from someone who was considered a plodder that was in danger of being phased out of the modern NBA. Now it’s about how smart of a defender he is, how he’s evolved his offensive game, and that he’s an important part of an NBA championship team in 2021. So how does the initial signing look four years later?

Adam McGee gave the initial deal a more than solid A letter grade, and it’s hard to rate it any lower than that almost four years later.

The financial impact of the Brook Lopez signing almost four years later for the Milwaukee Bucks

The first contract Lopez signed with the Bucks was nothing short of a steal in hindsight. It was a one-year, $3.38 million contract after Lopez spent one season with the Los Angeles Lakers, and they didn’t want to bring him back.

I remember not being sure of what Lopez would bring to the Bucks, but I still had the vision of him being a low post scorer like in his Nets days. However, as we all saw, Lopez was not that player anymore. He made an immediate impact on the Bucks and played his way into a bigger contract.

The following offseason was when Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon were also free agents, so there was some question regarding who the Bucks could and would bring back. Lopez was one of their main priorities though, signing a four-year, $52 million deal to remain with the Bucks.

Since that signing, many have looked at Lopez’s salary as a possible trade filler as he gets older, and they believe the game has sped past him. The Bucks haven’t wavered in their confidence in Lopez as a defender and leader on the team, though.

For what Lopez means to the Bucks base defensive scheme and how much other players talk about how smart he is as a defender, Lopez has more than earned the contract he signed. He has two years remaining (including this upcoming season), and I fully expect him to be a Buck through both seasons and continuing to anchor their elite paint defense.