Sports

3 reasons Bucks need to be worried with Brook Lopez’s injury

After the Milwaukee Bucks opening day victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Brook Lopez has yet to suit up again due to a lingering back issue. Lopez underwent surgery on Thursday as the condition of his back has not improved over the last month. There is no timetable for his return and that would be tough for the Bucks because he is their defensive anchor and a terrific three-point shooter.

As the Bucks are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, the absence of Lopez is not being felt yet as they recently signed center DeMarcus Cousins to bolster their frontcourt depth. Along with that, Bobby Portis is having a career year as the starting big man. Milwaukee may still rack up over 50 wins in the regular season without Lopez, but his presence and skill set would be a massive help for their postseason run.

But with the uncertainty surrounding his injury, the Bucks must be worried about three facets they’re missing without Brook Lopez.

Rim protection and shot-blocking

Even with former Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo on the roster, Lopez remains as the individual that mans the paint and defends the best big man of the opposing team. Excluding the 2011-12 season, Lopez has tallied over one block per game in every year of his career. Even if he does not swat layups and floaters, his ability to stifle the rhythm of the slashers is more than enough as an anchor for the Bucks.

With Lopez protecting the shaded lane, his teammates could afford to risk intercepting passes or poking the ball loose because he will help them provide ample defense inside the paint. Even if he does not flourish in every playoff matchup, having Lopez is a brilliant luxury for coach Mike Budenholzer.

Five-out offense

Over their championship run last season, Giannis was able to dominate every series because of the immense space and shooting prowess of his teammates. Even as a post presence and defensive anchor, Lopez converted one shot per game from beyond the arc in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

Despite his abysmal 31 percent shooting from long distance in the postseason, he remained as a serious threat because defenders knew he could covert a three-pointer at any juncture of the game. In the early part of his career, Lopez was a no-show with his shooting, but his game gradually evolved to fit the modern style of play. Even with his prolonged absence, Portis and Cousins will provide a boost to the spacing of the Bucks as well.

Pouncing on mismatches in the post

Even if Lopez’s usage rate has dropped from his Nets days, he is still an effective option on the block because of his finesse moves and patience in the post. Defenses tend to switch a ton over the past few years because of the coaches’ schemes and speed of the guards in today’s era. However, the glaring disadvantage is when guards are switched onto seven-footers such as Lopez.

Not all big men utilize their heft and size as an enormous edge over small defenders, but Lopez is a guy who would constantly seal his man and convert numerous hook shots and short stabs. Through the feeds of Jrue Holliday or Khris Middleton, defenses are forced to adjust and change their approach on the continuous switching on Lopez.

With Bucks expected to miss Lopez for the majority of the regular season, they hope to have him back for another deep run in the NBA Playoffs. Back injuries could be tricky and atrocious because it takes longer to heal. The hope is for Lopez to have at least several games before the postseason to get his conditioning and fitness going again for Budenholzer to maximize the roster in defending their title.

Draymond Green, Warriors, Andre Iguodala, Jordan Poole, Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, Kevon Looney



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