All season long, Milwaukee Bucks’ big man Brook Lopez has been a staple in the Defensive Player of the Year race, and rightfully so.
After missing most of last season due to back surgery, Lopez has been incredible in 2022-23, and his efforts may earn him one of the league’s most prestigious awards by season’s end. NBA.com released an updated Defensive Player of the Year ladder, and Lopez sits atop the mountain. After a recent nine-block outing against the Brooklyn Nets, Lopez’s chances have increased mightily.
Trailing Lopez is Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley, both of whom have both been tremendous for their respective teams. The race is certainly far from over, but with the NBA’s regular season winding down, Lopez has assumed control of things for now.
Bucks’ Brook Lopez’s DPOY odds gaining tracking after NBA’s latest ladder
Lopez has helped anchor Milwaukee’s imposing defense all season by being a monstrous presence in the paint. The 34-year-old is currently averaging 2.5 blocks per game, which is a career-high for the veteran. With an impressive 170 blocks this season, Lopez currently leads the entire league in blocked shots. Per NBA.com, Lopez also leads the league in contested shots at 1,185. To put that into perspective, the next name on the list is Evan Mobley at 775. That is absolutely incredible.
Lopez’s hulking presence inside cannot be overstated. To highlight his impact, look at Milwaukee’s defensive rating over the past two seasons. Last season, where he played just 13 regular season games, Milwaukee’s defensive rating was 14th. This season, where Lopez has played in all but a single game, the Bucks rank first in defensive rating. Of course, not all of that is due to Lopez, but having him undoubtedly helps make the Bucks a far more dangerous defensive team.
It has been said time and time again, but Lopez’s mid-career transition to becoming one of the NBA’s most dominant defensive forces has been incredible. Lopez has become an underrated player in the eyes of many, but Bucks fans know how much of an impact he can have nightily.
Stay tuned for what should be a thrilling down to the wire Defensive Player of the Year race.