Reactions to Brook Lopez, George Hill set to return for Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 25 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 25 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

It’s been a day of good and bad injury news for the Milwaukee Bucks. First, they found out that DeAndre’ Bembry would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. However, that was countered with some injury news that we had been waiting all season.

The team announced that both Brook Lopez and George Hill would make their return against the Utah Jazz. Hill has been out since January 30th with neck soreness that caused him to miss 16 games. Lopez, as we all know, has been out since the first game of the season. It was first deemed “back soreness” but eventually needed surgery.

What does Brook Lopez and George Hill’s return mean for the Milwaukee Bucks?

Let’s get Hill out of the way first. His return sets up an interesting dynamic with the backup backcourt rotation between him and Jevon Carter. Hill is a proven veteran that knows what the Milwaukee Bucks want to do at both ends.

He wasn’t shooting the ball well at 31.6 percent from 3 on nearly three attempts per game, but it was trending up before he got hurt. He also shooting 55.6 percent on 2-point attempts, the second-best mark of his career.

That doesn’t include his defense, which is still solid at 35-years-old. He has a good frame and is a solid positional defender. Head coach Mike Budenholzer trusts him to be out there defensively in big moments, but there’s a new sheriff in town for backcourt defense.

Carter has come in and immediately made an impact with his defense. He has played 25-plus minutes three times already in his first eight games with the Bucks and Budenholzer came to trust him right away.

He’s been shooting the ball very well which helps him stay on the floor so teams can’t completely ignore him if he’s knocking down shots. He’s not going to keep shooting 56 percent from 3 on solid volume, but if he can keep it around 38 to 40 percent then he’ll force himself into a role.

Another new addition that could see their minutes shrink due to this news is Serge Ibaka.

While Lopez won’t immediately step into big minutes, as he gradually gets more comfortable and gets healthier, he will eat into both Ibaka and Bobby Portis’ minutes.

Ibaka has begun to turn a corner after struggling in his first few games, so I’d like to see him stay in the rotation to some degree but it’s hard to justify playing so many bigs.

It’s hard to predict just how Lopez will look upon his return and as he progresses given how unpredictable back surgeries can be, but even if he can get to 80 percent of what he was last season, he’ll have a significant role.

We’ll likely eventually see Lopez step back into a starting role, even if he doesn’t play starter minutes all the time. His chemistry with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the defensive end has led the Bucks to being one of the best defenses in the last three seasons.

The Bucks defense has slipped this season with Portis starting as they’ve had to adjust how they defend. They haven’t been able to use their traditional drop coverage against pick-and-roll as their base defense, so being able to play that more often with Lopez and Ibaka should help their defense overall.

When Lopez does return to the starting lineup, that will send Portis back to the bench and will provide a much-needed scoring punch for the second unit. Sure, bench scoring isn’t the be-all, end-all but having some scoring depth is important.

Next. 5 noteworthy X-Factors for the Milwaukee Bucks down the stretch. dark

It’s nice that the Milwaukee Bucks are slowly getting healthy and getting two key rotation players back, even if they did lose another that could have been key to their small-ball lineups.