After spending the first nine seasons of his career as a member of the Brooklyn Nets franchise, Brook Lopez was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent last year.
In 74 games (72 starts) with the rebuilding Lakers, he averaged 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per contest.
Since Lopez will presumably have a solid shot to start on what should be a contending team in the Eastern Conference, it’s clear that the decision was made because he wants to make a playoff run.
With a core of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks should be a formidable opponent for anyone in the East. That variety of talent within the team’s core (since each of the three does vastly different things on the court) led to Lopez’s decision.
“I definitely think it’s going to be a symbiotic relationship all around. I think we have such a variety of talent, including many talented young players, and I think that’s going to make things easier for everyone. I think we’ll definitely be making noise in the East,” he told Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype.
He added, “I just tried to evaluate all of the different options that I had. When I was looking at Milwaukee, they were just such a young, hungry team that’s right on the cusp. They have continued to improve every year and I think the sky is the limit for this team. I think we’re going to grow a lot together this year and become a very formidable team.”
The sky’s the limit
Since LeBron is now a Los Angeles Laker, Lopez believes that the East is wide open.
“We definitely think the East is wide open. It’s going to be such a fun, exciting time in the East and it’s going to be super competitive. There are a lot of teams that can do [big] things, from Toronto to Boston to Philly – you just go down the list and it’s clear that the East is as exciting as it’s been in a long time. I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East,” Lopez explained.
Under new head coach Mike Budenholzer and alongside Ersan Ilyasova and Thon Maker, Lopez now makes up one of the best three-point-shooting frontcourts in the NBA. After going 3-for-31 from three over his first eight NBA seasons, Lopez has transformed his game, knocking down 134-of-387 threes in 2016-2017 and 112-of-325 last season.
Therefore, Lopez will clearly pose a perimeter threat, something that Milwaukee lacked at times last season. That should not only open up more opportunities for him, but also for his teammates, who will benefit from the spacing that he will naturally provide.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic,” Lopez stated. “Obviously, Ersan is someone who can shoot the lights out. We both know that [shooting threes] is definitely going to be one of our roles with this team. A lot of the time in Coach [Mike] Budenholzer’s system, it’s paramount that the floor is spaced and he runs a lot of 5-out [offense]. … It’s going to open things up for a lot of people, especially the guys like Giannis, who is just going to be deadly with that much spacing around him, and Eric, who likes to penetrate, get in the paint and make plays for himself and others.”
Although he took a major discount, Milwaukee may end up being the perfect place for Lopez to be at this point in his career.