The Bucks Are Running It Back With Brook Lopez; Can They Return to Form?

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD
The Bucks Are Running It Back With Brook Lopez; Can They Return to Form?

After becoming just the sixth top seed to lose in the first round, the Milwaukee Bucks are running it back in 2023-24, re-signing center Brook Lopez to a two-year, $48 million extension.

Lopez's extension came less than 24 hours after Milwaukee re-signed Khris Middleton to a three-year deal. The Bucks managed to fend off the Houston Rockets and lure Lopez back to town. Thus, they're keeping one of the decade's winningest teams intact -- at least for one more season.

Can Lopez Keep It Up?

Brook Lopez has completely changed his game over the past seven seasons. The former All-Star and two-time All-Defensive team member didn't make a three-pointer until his seventh NBA season and didn't make more than two until his ninth. However, he's turned into one of the best spot-up shooters in the league as a Buck.

The seven-footer has become one of the most coveted archetypes in the league: a shot-blocking shooter. Last season, Lopez ranked second in the NBA with 2.5 blocks per game. He simultaneously averaged 1.7 threes per game while shooting 37.4% from beyond the arc.

Perhaps his best ability last year was his availability. Lopez led the team with 78 starts during the regular season, missing just four games. He averaged 15.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game over that span, and his scoring jumped to 19.0 points per game during their lone playoff series.

Lopez can't play in every matchup during the playoffs, but his shooting and rim protection are vital for keeping Giannis Antetokounmpo fresh during the regular season. While there will be concerns about his health given his frame and age, he makes sense for a Bucks team that was considered one of the favorites at the beginning of last year's postseason.

Betting Odds Impact

It came as a shock to no one that the Bucks kept Lopez in Milwaukee. His re-signing, along with Middleton's extension, were widely expected and did little to impact their NBA Finals odds. Prior to free agency, the Bucks were +550 to win the Finals. At the time of publication, they're still at +550 and still own the third-best odds to win the title behind the Boston Celtics (+470) and Denver Nuggets (+480).

With those two back and Giannis still leading the way, the Bucks figure to be in heavy contention for the number-one seed in the Eastern Conference, and they're a legitimate title contender once again.

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