Exclusive: Brook Lopez wants new Bucks contract and Defensive Player of the Year

Amid a contract season, Brook Lopez has fortified himself as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate by anchoring Milwaukee’s defense and positioned himself for a pay raise, which he hopes comes from the Bucks.

“I love it here,” Lopez told HoopsHype when asked about his long-term future after the Bucks defeated the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity the Bucks gave me five years ago to come here and be a part of something special. We’ve had a great time. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

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Lopez is earning $13.9 million in the final year of his contract and is set to enter unrestricted free agency as one of the top players on the market according to our HoopsHype 2023 free agent rankings.

Before the season, our HoopsHype capologist, Yossi Gozlan, predicted the probability of Lopez extending as “decent.” So what could a potential extension look like? Lopez, who turns 35 on April 1, theoretically could sign a two-year extension worth as much as $34.7 million.

Following Monday’s win over the Knicks, MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo spoke glowingly of Lopez’s importance for the Bucks this season.

“In my opinion, and probably Jrue’s, he’s the Defensive Player of the Year,” Antetokounmpo said as Jrue Holiday interjected, saying, “100 percent.”

“No doubt,” Antetokounmpo continued. “He’s 34 years old. It’s insane how he’s playing right now. We need him to play this way for 60 more games.”

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Lopez leads the league in total blocks (101), contested twos per game (15.2), and total twos contested (591). His contesting rate is significantly higher than any other player in the league, with Ivica Zubac ranking a distant second in both categories (9.9 and 397) compared to Lopez. Overall, Lopez also ranks first in total contested shots (661) and contested shots per game (16.9).

“It’s definitely a goal of mine,” Lopez told HoopsHype when asked about his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy. “Obviously, I’m a team-first player who wants the team to be successful. We want to win a championship. That’s our main goal. It definitely would be a personal point of pride for me, and it’s a goal for myself.”

“He’s a big part of who we are,” Antetokounmpo said. “He’s a big part of why this team is so great defensively and offensively. He’s playing right now at a very high level. He’s literally covering our butts on defense every single possession. He’s having a great season. We need him offensively to be great and defensively to be great.”

Lopez has anchored a Bucks defense, which ranks third in defensive rating (109.4) and tied for fourth in blocks per game (5.4).

“He’s going to block a lot of shots, contest everything, rebound the ball for us, play defense for us, and sometimes dive on the floor,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s what makes him great. He competes hard for this team. I’m so happy that him (Holiday) and him (Lopez) are on my side, and I’m not playing against them.”

You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) on Twitter.


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Story originally appeared on HoopsHype

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