It was seven years, one All-Star appearance, and nearly 5,000 shots into his career before Brook Lopez made his first NBA three-pointer (a last-second, desperation fling at that). Over the past two seasons, he made 246 of them. That is roughly the same number as three-point specialist Tony Snell made (252) in those same two seasons.
More than 40 percent of his field goal attempts last year were from beyond the arc. Lopez is not a center who can step out and hit a three. He is a center who makes threes for a living.
And he will make a fine living with that one-year contract worth 3.4 million dollars. For NBA standards though, the Bucks got him on the cheap. Lopez made 22.2 million dollars last season with the Lakers. The Lakers get away with things like that and still end up with LeBron James because they are the Lakers. The Bucks need to be smart though. This deal is.
In July, this is the sentence you want to read: The Bucks scooped up an adaptable player who has adjusted his game to fit the modern NBA on a short-term and reasonable contract.
Starting in October, you will want to read about Lopez fitting in well with Giannis. More than that, that he maximizes Giannis. Everyone is saying Giannis is the best player in the East, and that is true, but he is also one of the three or four smartest picks to win MVP next season. Everything we have seen points to it.
And also some things we have yet to see. Like, a center who takes and makes threes in volume. Bucks centers have made a combined 71three-pointers in the five years since Giannis landed in Milwaukee. Last year, Lopez made 72 before All-Star Weekend.
Do not expect Lopez, a role player at this point, to transform the offense. But he could help tilt things in the right direction. And we are talking about an offense that already ranked seventh in efficiency last season. The Lakers were pretty bad last year, but they went 12–2 when Lopez made 3+ threes. When he gets in a groove, the Bucks are going to be awfully tough to guard. Even when he is missing, he should, theoretically anyway, open up driving lanes.
This perimeter-oriented version of Lopez doesn’t grab offensive rebounds anymore, but the Bucks (29th in offensive rebounds last season) have been forfeiting the offensive glass for a while now anyway, in favor of getting back on defense. Mike Budenholzer’s Hawks had historically eschewed offensive rebounds too, ranking dead last in the league during their unforeseen 60-win season in 2013–14, and then again the next year when they won 48 games. For the Bucks, defensive boards are more of a priority, and Lopez has dipped in the last couple years on that end. If he is to nab and keep a starting spot, that may need to tick back up.
Lopez has had a positive Box Plus/Minus in each season of his career. At a below-average salary, he should be an above-average player. And if he can help unlock another level for Giannis (there aren’t many levels to go), he will go down in world history as a force for good.