Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez regains the lead in the NBA Defensive Player Ladder

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Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez has been a dominant defender in the NBA for years now, but this season he is truly crushing it as he is fully recovered after the center missed most of last season. The veteran center is now the frontrunner to earn the Hakeem Olajuwon Defensive Player of the Year award, as he recently passed Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. in the ladder.

The 34-year-old started off his career as a great offensive asset on court, but it wasn’t until he became part of the Bucks that he found his true calling as a commandinng presence in the defensive side of the court, becoming the two-way player he really is.

The fact that Lopez has played alongside Milwaukee stars Jrue Holiday or even Giannis Antetokoumpo has provided him with both the attacking and defensive inspiration the athlete needed to take his game to the next level.

Standing at seven feet, the center is considerably athletic and sometimes even switches to the guard position, which provides versatiliy to the Bucks’ possibilities on court. And as he weighs 280 lbs, he imposes his physicality with strong blocks and rebounds.

So, aside from delivering frontcourt with averages of 14.2 points, 6.5 rebounds per game and shooting at an efficient 50.1% from the field this campaign, his true prowess comes at the other end of the floor.

The veteran is by far the NBA’s best in contesting 17.3 shots per game, with Brooklyn’s Nic Claxton second at 12.2., and shows 50.7% efficiency when on 1 and in opponents’ field goal attempts, helping his teammates to dedicate their guard around the perimeter as he is in control of the paint inside the arc. Brook also makes a solid case for blocks in the league with 2.5 per contest.

“It does come back around. For me, it’s all about positioning,” Lopez said last year about his philosophy when defending shots. “Just making sure you’re in the right spot at the right time. Obviously, I want to be there to protect my guy. If I get a blocked shot, that’s one way to do it. But there are a lot of ways of making sure it doesn’t even get to that point. Whether it’s guys getting back-screened and I’m helping by being there for a second in the paint. Or back doors, things of that nature, just taking away those easy looks.”

Just the other day against the Clippers, the big man won 15 rebounds and 3 blocks in Milwaukee’s victory in Los Angeles (106-119). Check out his performance highlights on February 10 as he also added 22 points to his name:

Brooks has played all games this season except for one (56), and if the 34-year-old keeps this pace, no one will be able to dethrone him from the #1 spot on the Defensive Player Ladder for this championship.

As for Jaren Jackson Jr., who used to be on the top of the contest, has seen his defensive stats decline since the beginning of the year. Ever since January 1st, Jackson’s fouls have gone from 2.9 per match to 3.8, as Memphis has fallen from tied for fourth in defensive rating before that date to tied for 10th place.

Here are the top contenders for the best defender of the season in February’s edition of the race:

1. Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks

2. Jaren Jackson Jr. Memphis Grizzlies

3. Robert Williams III, Boston Celtics

4. Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

5. O.G. Anunoby, Toronto Raptors