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Robin Lopez is the less-newsworthy acquisition that could make the biggest difference for the Bulls

Lopez is a good center, and should help the Bulls in many areas.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When Robin Lopez isn't harassing NBA mascots, or hitting up the latest Comic-Con event or visiting Disney Land, he's actually a very solid, above-average center. Though not much has been talked about the Chicago Bulls newest big man, Lopez excels in various areas on both ends of the floo  that should surely benefit the Bulls.

With the help of our friends over at the New York Knicks site, Posting & Toasting, let's take a look at what Lopez does well on offense and defense.


Lopez isn't someone who's going to overwhelm you on the block offensively, he's not going to demand the ball like Pau Gasol has the over the last two seasons. This past season with New York, Lopez averaged 10.3 PPG on 53.9% shooting on just over eight shots per game. He does have the ability to stretch the floor  out to 15 feet or so, which should help space the floor to an extent, and should be helpful given the Bulls lack of it in the starting backcourt.

But when given the chance offensively, Lopez picks his spots well and is efficient when doing so. Per, of those centers with at least 200 possessions in the post, Lopez shot 50% (fourth highest), and earned 0.89 points per possession (68.2 percentile). That number had him in front of names such as Gasol,  Derrick Favors, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond.

Lopez's hook shot has developed into quite the weapon over the past few seasons. On such shots last season, Lopez had 236 attempts, scoring on 129 of those, good for an impressive 54.7%. Per Posting & Toasting's Seth Rosenthal:

"If Robin catches the ball with his feet set and his back to the basket, he'll often do some pivoting to look for an outlet or a clean slot to score*, then he'll put the ball on the floor for a couple dribbles, establish his pivot foot again, and get to work hooking fools."

And thanks, to Seth, here are some highlights showcasing what he's talking about. Lopez is patient when he gets the ball, and his basketball IQ is palpable with the moves he makes.

Lopez isn't necessarily a passing connoisseur from the post, but he did average 1.4 APG last season, with a career high assist percentage of 8.5% per basketball-reference. So he's not Joakim Noah with his passing, but what he does do similarly is set screens, dribble hand-offs and create space for shooters and playmakers. Noah was great at this (pre-injury), especially last season with Doug McDermott, and Lopez should be able to fill this role nicely.

Below are a few highlights from Rosenthal highlighting Lopez's ability, and it's fairly easy to envision him doing the same with guys like Butler, Wade and McDermott.


Robin Lopez is not Pau Gasol defensively. We can at least take some solace in knowing that fact. In looking at the Knicks last season, they finished 18th in defensive rating, and generally weren't a very good as a team collectively. So in looking at Lopez's defensive rating individually, you have to take it with a grain of salt.

But there were some bright spots last season with the Knicks as a team on the defensive end. With Lopez anchoring the paint, the Knicks finished with best rim protecting percentage in the league at 48.5%, finishing in front of the Bulls, who were seventh. In addition, opponents shot 10.7% lower on shots less than six feet away from the rim against Lopez, and 7.2% lower 10 feet or less from the rim. He can contain the pick-and-roll aptly (something Gasol struggled immensely with), and knows when recover help-side (again, something Gasol couldn't do).

Last season, Lopez had a dominant showing against one of the league's newest forces down low in Detroit's Andre Drummond. Lopez held Drummond to 13 points on 15 shots with only nine rebounds, one of the few times he failed to record a double-double. As Posting & Toasting's Jonathan Schulman wrote from the December outing:

"In this matchup, Lopez was able to beat Drummond to his spots while bumping ball handlers a step or two off their route and recovering in time to spill Detroit's buckets."

Schulman was even kind enough to put together a highlight from this game showcasing Lopez's dominance. Throughout we can see him use his size, strength and athleticism to disrupt everything that Drummond wanted to accomplish.

As stated previously, Lopez also has the ability to contain the pick-and-roll, even against the league's most athletic point guard in Russell Westrbrook. From an earlier game against the Thunder last November, Lopez showed an outstanding ability to contain Westbrook in the PnR, via the guard "ICING" the screen, as well as recovering back to the big rolling. It was during this game that Westbrook went 11-29 from the field, with Lopez's presence having an obvious impact on him.

(This was once more via Posting & Toasting's Rosenthal, shoutout to the great work over there.)

But through these various clips, Lopez is able to contain Westbrook out of the PnR, forcing him into that midrange area for one of the game's least efficient shots. There were also times where Lopez was able to contain the initial drive from Westbrook, and recover back to his man.

In this same game, Lopez shows a knack for being attentive in the help-side, coming over to stop Westbrook's layup attempt at the last second. These areas defensively were where the Bulls really struggled with over the last couple of seasons, mainly due to Gasol's inabilities. But with Gasol now gone and the addition of Lopez, the improvement should be significant on this end. Lopez will not be at Noah's level defensively, but he will provide a positive impact.

Lopez isn't going to be an All-NBA, All-Star player by any means (distinctions that Gasol earned in his Bulls stint). But what he is, is a very good NBA center, and his addition to the team should help them in many ways, especially given the structure of the roster. Bulls fans will quickly grow an appreciation for the mascot hounding center.