Long-time Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez is looking for a new start in Milwaukee. After a short one-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lopez is looking to regain his previous form with the Bucks.
Lopez saw his numbers drop significantly in the 2017-18 season, when he scored an average of just 13.0 points per game. For comparison, in each of the previous two seasons (his last with the Nets), Lopez averaged 20.5 and 20.6 points, respectively. The 13.0 points per game matched his career low (for a full season), which he recorded during his rookie season way back in 2008.
To his credit, the drop in production is directly related to the decision to underutilize him in L.A., which is clearly evident in his decrease in playing time. In 2015, he played an average of 33.7 minutes per game, followed by 29.6 minutes per game in 2016. The Lakers only had him on the court for 23.4 minutes per contest.
It’s very difficult to understand why the Lakers would so severely limit his playing time. Not only is he a big time contributor offensively, but he provides a solid and physical defensive presence in the paint. Lopez is a block master, who has a career average of 1.7 blocks per game. The Lakers really could have used him next season with LeBron, but they will have to make due with their recent signee, JaVale McGee.
Nevertheless, the Lakers’ loss is the Bucks’ gain. Milwaukee got Lopez at a bargain price on a one-year deal worth $3.38 million. Lopez has a unique ability of providing the aforementioned defensive presence, combined with very impressive offensive output. His way of scoring is also not limited to the paint and on the inside. Lopez averaged 1.7 three-pointers per game in 2016, his final season in Brooklyn.
The Bucks meanwhile, have a very clear agenda – putting their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, in the most appealing position to succeed. The ability of Lopez to knock down outside shots and three pointers will naturally pull defenders outside the paint, clearing an easier path for Giannis to reach the basket.
Only time will tell how this signing will work out for both sides. Lopez still has to fend off Thon Maker and John Henson for playing time, but he has a very good chance to do that. In the event that the 2018 season in Milwaukee brings out the best of Lopez, we could see him return to his pre-Lakers form, thereby securing himself a nice extension with the Bucks, or conversely raising his market value for his next round of free agency.