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Brook Lopez should make the All-Star Team

In his fifteenth NBA season, Brook Lopez is playing his best-ever basketball. But will the 34-year-old get the All-Star nod he deserves?

By 2013, the NBA was beginning to transition towards becoming a guards league. The age of the dinosaur center was coming to an end. It had dominated how teams were built since its mid-century inception during the twentieth century. But by the middle of the 2010s, the popularity of the three-point shot pushed bigs out of the spotlight and made guards, specifically point guards, the primary position of the league. 

At that time, Shaquille O’Neal, a Mount Rushmore center, was asked who the best current big men were. In hindsight, his response shows just how anemic the level of center talent had become. In ascending order, he listed his top-five bigs: DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, and Brook Lopez. Amongst these stars, only Lopez is still in the league, anchoring the center position for the Milwaukee Bucks, with whom he won a championship in 2021. 

Outside of LeBron James, players in their 15th year generally aren’t worth talking about, especially centers. But Lopez, averaging 14.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game at 34 years old, is making a case to be an All-Star for the second time in his career. His first selection was in 2013 when Shaq dubbed him “the best big man in the NBA,” which may I remind you was a decade ago. So what exactly has Lopez done to return to form?

Brook Lopez revamped his game 

Lopez was one of his era’s most skilled post players in his prime, equipped with deft footwork, impressive passing ability, and a strong face-up game. He was never a strong rebounder, only averaging 6.2 rebounds for his career and never averaging double digits in a single season. But offensively, he was unstoppable and was the most skilled post player in the league for almost a decade after Shaq retired. 

Once he arrived in Milwaukee, he evolved his game to fit the direction the league was trending towards: Floor-spacing centers capable of shooting threes. He went from averaging less than one three-point attempt per game in his nine years with the Nets to launching 6.3 per game in his first season with the Bucks. In his five seasons with Milwaukee, he’s shooting 36% from the perimeter, hitting a career-high 40% this season. Even more impressive is his career-best effective field goal percentage (.596) and his second-highest true shooting percentage (.622). 

And though the offense is impressive, the real turnaround for Lopez has been on the defensive end. His current six rebounds per game is the highest since the 2015-2016 season, and his 2.7 blocks per game is a career-best. His current 107 defensive rating is good for the fifth-best of his career. And his impact is being felt collectively, as the Bucks are leading the NBA in defensive efficiency at just 106.5 points per 100 possessions. 

It shows the impact Lopez has manning the middle for over thirty minutes a game, his highest in eight seasons. Typically the term “three and D” describes perimeter players who can hit threes and defend at a high level. Lopez has expanded the term to include a center that can be both one of the league’s best shooters and lead the league in blocks per game. It’s taken a while, but at 34 years old Brook Lopez has become an ideal center in the modern NBA. 

He deserves an All-Star nod

Even more impressively, Lopez has done all this after undergoing back surgery in the middle of the last season, which kept him out until right before the playoffs. Now healthy, he’s experiencing a career renaissance. Lopez has been rumored to be in the running for both All-Star and All-Defensive team consideration, combining his early career’s defensive acumen with the modern era’s offensive creativity to become one of the league’s most inventive bigs. 

Rewarding Lopez with either an All-Star nod or an All-Defensive nod would recognize a center who has evolved his game through the biggest offensive shift in league history. Lopez earned Shaq’s respect almost a decade ago, and instead of letting it get to his head, he kept adding to his game on both ends of the floor. The least we could do for him is to send him to Salt Lake City in February.