Here’s What Robin Lopez Can Bring to the Orlando Magic

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - The oldest player on the Orlando Magic this upcoming season, as of now, will be Robin Lopez, the 33-year-old center signed by the team to a one-year deal this week. While it’s unclear exactly how new head coach Jamahl Mosley will utilize him, there’s no doubt that the 13-year NBA veteran will bring some much-needed leadership and experience to a squad in the early stages of a rebuild.

Here’s a breakdown of Lopez’s strengths.

Post-Up Efficiency

Lopez totaled 193 post points in 2020-21 with the Washington Wizards, 11th most in the NBA. More impressive, though, was that he made 67.5 percent of those shots. How remarkable is that?

The 7-foot, 281-pounder is the only player in the last six seasons to score 100-plus post points and shoot at least 65 percent on those attempts.

It was his jump hook that was so lethal. He made 75 of his 116 hook shot attempts (64.7 percent). That was a fairly big improvement from the prior couple years. With the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019-20, he shot just 46.7 percent on hook shots and with the Chicago Bulls in 2018-19 he shot 55.9 percent.

Interior Defense

Lopez’s No. 1 strength is his defense, particularly as a backline protector. While he’s a bit slow-footed and will generally get blown past on the perimeter by speedsters when caught in a switch, the North Hollywood, California native excels at obstructing or altering opponent’s shots near the basket.

Opponents last season collectively shot 47.4 percent from the field, two percent lower than those players’ combined season field goal percentage, when Lopez was the closest defender. From less than six feet from the basket, opponents shot just 50.4 percent, nearly 12 percent lower than those players' consolidated season percentage from this range.

His numbers were even better the prior year with the Bucks, as opponents shot 43.7 percent overall with him as the nearest defender and 44.4 percent from within six feet. The only two players in the entire league who had a better defensive field goal percentage from less than six feet out were Milwaukee teammates Giannis Antetokounmpo and brother Brook Lopez.

Good in the Clutch

Eleven times throughout the 2020-21 season Lopez was in the game when the Wizards were ahead or behind by five points or less in the final five minutes. Washington went 9-2 in those contests, with Lopez making six of his nine shot attempts and 10 of his 11 free throws in that time.

*Statistics compiled from NBA.com/stats

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