Atlanta Hawks: Does Signing Brook Lopez Make Sense in Free Agency?

Brook Lopez Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brook Lopez Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

An exploration of how signing Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks might make sense for the Atlanta Hawks this offseason.

Now that the Milwaukee Bucks have bowed out of the NBA Playoffs at the hands of the Toronto Raptors, all teams can begin to circle the wagons around the team’s most attractive free agents. The Atlanta Hawks will surely look to poach some of former Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer’s most important players from a team that had the best record in the NBA during the 2018-19 regular season.

One major player that completely transformed the Bucks from season to season was 2018 free agent acquisition Brook Lopez. Lopez, formerly known as a lumbering, back-to-the-basket center, realized that the role of a post-up big man in the pace-and-space era would soon be extinct, so he adapted his game to include three-pointers.

With the Bucks, Lopez took that augmentation to the extreme by bombing insanely deep threes as the trail man, producing a career-high 36.5 percent clip from long range on a sky-high 65.1 percent three-point attempt rate per Basketball Reference.

Furthermore, because Lopez wasn’t lurching up the court all the way to the rim on offense, he was able to get back on defense more easily to defend the rim, which he did to an impressive degree with career-highs in block rate (6.5%) and total blocks (179) – the latter of which was 3rd in the NBA.

Lopez was the only player in the NBA with a three-point attempt rate above 60 percent and a block rate above 5 percent. Lower those parameters to 50 percent and 4 percent, respectively and only Maxi Kleber (another attractive free agency target for the Atlanta Hawks), Thon Maker, Jonah Bolden and Luke Kornet (the Unikornet) qualify for the list.

That impressive combination of three-point bombing and rim protection would fit like a glove on an Atlanta Hawks roster that adores spacing, its 37.3 percent three-point attempt rate as a team was 4th in the league per Cleaning the Glass, and sorely needs rim protection. Could Lopez be the answer?

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If the Atlanta Hawks are willing to pony up an impressive offer for Lopez this offseason, it seems likely that his time in Milwaukee will come to an end — though the Bucks need his services, too. After a terrific 2018-19 season, Lopez will likely be a hot commodity, so the Hawks must be aggressive if they truly want him on the team next year.