Lopez has accomplished winning a championship and becoming All-Star in the NBA. Those accolades attract Ime Udoka, as his plan is to chase Lopez and other veteran NBA players. The Rockets will need Lopez’s defensive intangibles and communication among the locker room, huddles and team meetings.
Lopez became an incredible defensive force for the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. Being able to defend the rim allowed him to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice. He has a career average 1.8 blocks per game and always kept his defensive rating below 111.6. At age 35-years-old, Lopez had a defensive rating of 106.6, which led him to make an All-NBA Defensive team in the previous season. He prides himself on defense and he is a legit seven-footer with athleticism too. Alperen Sengun can learn a ton from Lopez if he joins the Rockets in free agency.
Although Lopez was snubbed of losing Defensive Player of The Year this previous season, he’s still motivated for another chance at it. After Game 2 versus the Miami Heat in the playoffs, he told reporters this:
“It’s all motivation,” Lopez said. “For me. Mmm-hmm. It is. I still feel like I have a long career left. Hopefully playing the way I play, maybe a couple of All-Stars? I have my personal goals, but the way things roll out, it’s definitely motivation for me.”
The Rockets were third to last on defense last year, Lopez can improve that. Lopez did an excellent job of defending the pick-and-roll. He was in the 82.5 percentile when defending the pick-and-roll. Lopez will be effective in man-to-man switch opportunities, as he’ll use athleticism and length to guard smaller players. His length helps contest shots and defend the passing lanes. Lopez and Jabari Smith Jr. will give opposing teams nightmares while they’re playing defense together.
Bucks are #1 in defense and Brook Lopez has a 9.4% block rate, about double his career average. Arguably been even better this year than before the back surgery. pic.twitter.com/N6D711XIAj— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) October 30, 2022
Besides his defensive skills, Lopez’s scoring accolades cannot be looked past, as he can be used effectively in pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop. Lopez can use his frame to block out defenders to clear the way for guards or himself. He shot a career best from the perimeter, which was 37.4 percent. Although Lopez finished in the 69.5 percentile in the pick-and-roll, he still averaged 55.1 percent in that category. Lopez can finish around the rim because of his length and strength. He’s the enforcer on offense and defense and doesn’t allow other players to bully him.
Udoka can use Lopez in various ways on offense, which includes him spaced out from the paint. He’s efficient in catch-and-shoot from amongst anywhere on offense. Lopez shot 40 percent in catch-and-shoot per NBA stat. He does a phenomenal job of playing off the ball. Udoka will position Lopez to set strong and physical screens for Jalen Green and other guards on the Rockets too.
The Rockets will need to overpay Lopez to attract him to Houston. Players around the NBA understand that the Rockets are in rebuilding mode and need to be patient with the process. On record, the Rockets are looking to overpay Dillon Brooks and Fred VanVleet too. Rafael Stone is aiming for two-three contracts. His goal is to use the $60 million cap space with reliable veterans. Udoka has made it noted the direction the Rockets’ organization needs to follow.
Ime Udoka was asked what kind of players (free agents) he wants on the team: "...So it's the right type of veterans that will lift the level of the team. So guys that have had success on this level, played in championships, played in high level situations..." #Rockets https://t.co/FuAgL1BKhN pic.twitter.com/2a2pjASg8S— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) June 26, 2023
The Rockets have created excitement amongst the NBA because of the draft picks and potential free agents that could come to Houston. Hopefully, their off-season plans are completed.