Optimism within Milwaukee Bucks for a Brook Lopez return in 2021-22

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 19 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 19 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

After leaving everyone in the dark for weeks, the Milwaukee Bucks finally revealed the next steps for the injured Brook Lopez.

As first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Lopez underwent successful back surgery on Thursday and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. It seemed inevitable that something like this could be on the horizon when the Bucks signed another center in DeMarcus Cousins to a deal earlier this week. No timetable has been given on a potential return for Lopez, but people close to the situation are reportedly not willing to rule out a comeback for the veteran this season.

Could Brook Lopez actually return for the Milwaukee Bucks this season?

According to The Athletic’s Eric Nehm (subscription required), some within the Bucks organization reportedly have optimism that Lopez could retake the floor for the defending champs this season at some point. While it is entirely too early to start talking about a potential comeback just one day removed from the surgery in question, it is welcoming to hear that the team is not yet ruling out a return for Lopez in 2021-22.

Lopez has played in just one game with the Bucks this season, which was the opener against their rival Brooklyn Nets. Since then, the team has missed him dearly. Lopez has proven to be one of the best interior defenders in the entire association, earning an All-Defensive selection for his efforts during the 2019-20 season. The Bucks have missed that presence inside as they maneuver past some early-season struggles. Offensively, Lopez provides great versatility with his outside shot as well as the ability to barrel his way inside and finish at the hoop.

Without Lopez, the Bucks will be more reliant on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, and their newest addition in Cousins to share the minutes at center. Everyone knows what Antetokounmpo brings to the table no matter what position he is playing, but the two interesting variables will be Portis and Cousins. Portis is currently thriving as a starter by putting up the best numbers of his career, and the Bucks will desperately need him to keep his foot on the gas. As for Cousins, this is an opportunity for him to get his career back on track after an injury-plagued past few years.

Replacing a player like Lopez that is so vital to the Bucks will not be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. The team has a solid three-headed snake to fill in for the moment, but it will be interesting to see how things transpire as the season goes on. The Bucks are undeniably a team that will be in the playoff picture even without Lopez, but it would be a massive boost if he were to return just in time for a postseason run.

Right now, it is far too early to start speculating about the big man’s return. At 33-years-old, the Bucks will be cautious with Lopez, and updates should come as the season progresses.

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For now, we all wish Lopez a speedy recovery. Get well soon, champ.