Giannis Antetokounmpo. Khris Middleton. Eric Bledsoe. When people talk about the current Bucks roster, usually these are the three names that are brought up the most. However, perhaps one of the most valuable players on the team is the passionate starting center, Brook Lopez. While his contributions do not always show up on the stat sheet, there is no doubt that Brook Lopez is a vital part of the Bucks success going forward. In this edition of Bucks Past and Present, we will take a look at his career up to this point.
Brook Lopez: College Career
Both Brook Lopez and his twin brother, Robin, played their college ball at Stanford University. In his freshman season, Brook averaged 12.6 points, six rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. That production earned him Honorable Mention All-Pac 10 and a spot on the All-Pac 10 Freshman teams. He was remarkably better in his sophomore season. That season (2007-2008), he average 19.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks.
Not many Milwaukee fans may remember this, but Brook Lopez became Public Enemy Number One that year for the state of Wisconsin. Marquette and Stanford faced off in the NCAA Tournament that year. The hard-fought game went into overtime, and the Golden Eagles had the advantage. Brook Lopez, though, hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer to knock Marquette out of the tournament. Stanford lost in the Sweet 16, and both twins declared for the NBA Draft.
Brook Lopez with the Nets
Brook Lopez was selected with the tenth overall pick by the New Jersey Nets. In nine seasons with the Nets, Brook averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. During that time, he had four seasons in which he averaged over 20 points per game. He made an immediate impact as a rookie, averaging 13 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. His production earned him a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team. In the 2012-2013 season, Lopez made his only career All-Star game. He ended that season with averages of 19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game.
The Nets, who always seem to be reinventing their team, decided to trade Brook, along with Kyle Kuzma, to the Lakers in exchange for Timofey Mosgov and D’Angelo Russell. Prior to the trade, Lopez averaged 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in his final season with the Nets.
One Year in Los Angeles
Brook Lopez only had one year remaining on his contract when he was traded to the Lakers. That one year would end up being the only season he would spend in L.A. as his numbers started to take a dive. A lot of this had to do with the talent (or lack there of) around him, and Lopez averaged just 13.6 points per game, his fewest since his rookie season. His four rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game were his fewest since the 2011-2012 season, in which he played in just five games due to injury. It was obvious that Los Angeles was not the place for him.
A New Niche in Milwaukee
Following his down year with the Lakers, Brook Lopez signed a one-year “prove it” deal with the Milwaukee Bucks. He sure did prove it!
While his point averages have not approached his totals with the Nets, Brook Lopez has become one of the most valuable players on the Bucks. In his first season, Lopez averaged 12.6 points and 4.9 rebounds. While these may appear to be much lower than should be expected of him, fans must remember that he now plays with Giannis Antetokunmpo, who averages nearly 30 points and 13 rebounds a game, and Khris Middleton, who averages about 20 points a game.
What has made Brook Lopez such an important part of this team are these three things: his defense, his three-point shooting, and his leadership on the floor. Few players play with as much intensity and emotion as the Bucks anchor. In his first season with the Bucks, he averaged 2.2 blocks per game, a career high. He followed that up this previous season with 2.4 blocks per game, and earning a spot on the NBA’s Second Team All-Defense.
Lopez started messing around with a three point shot during his last season with the Nets and in his only season with the Lakers, but it has been with the Bucks that his shooting has really been on display. In his first season, which also coincided with Coach Budenholzer’s first season, Lopez shot a career best 36.5% from behind the arc. He also set a career high in free-throw percentage, with 84.2%.
Following the success of his one-year deal with the Bucks, Lopez signed a four-year $52 million contract to remain in Milwaukee. In addition, the Bucks were able to sign his brother, Robin, reuniting the twins on the same team for the first time since their college days. Brook, along with Giannis, form the best duo of rim protectors in the league. The Bucks had the highest rated defense in the league this past season, and Brook Lopez is a huge reason why.