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2020-21 Wizards Player Evaluations: Robin Lopez’s hook was alive and well in a productive season

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The veteran center is not the All-Star that his twin brother Brook is. But Robin has been a solid performer for Washington this season with his veteran presence and solid shooting.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been said and written about Washington Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard's decision to employ Robin Lopez in exchange for over $7 million. Was the deal worth it?

Season Evaluation

Locker Room presence — RoLo has been, reportedly, a glue guy, a vet guys can relate to. In interviews, I have seen him give he came across as mature and very much accountable.

For instance, back in early April, when postseason prospects look quite grim for the Wiz, it was RoLo that was straightforward about it saying that the team lacked trust, in clear contrast to ex-coach Brooks who came up with some excuses about how the media is making a big deal out of the Wizards’ losing streak.

Statistical lines — In some respects, this was Lopez’s career-best season. He posted a career-best eFG percentage at 64 percent, compared to 55 percent last year and 58 percent in his best season priors (Phoenix 2009/10 and Chicago 2018/19 — both with similar minutes/game to this year) and 54% for his career. That’s a huge jump in his efficiency. This led to his best season in terms of points per 36 minutes, at a respectable 17.1 pts/36 minutes compared to 14.3 for his career. Impressive.

Moreover, his free-throw percentage jumped by about 20 percent compared to last year in Milwaukee (hmmm, not surprising...): actually, last season in Milwaukee was abysmal in that respect; this year he simply regressed back to his career average.

On the downside, this was his second-worst season in terms of blocks averaging 1.2/36 minutes or just 44 for the whole season.

Most of his other stats were around his career averages.

The hook shot — Both Robin and his All-Star twin Brook employ the hook shot, but I’d argue that Robin’s is more perfect. In fact, he does it with either hand! In one game in April against Golden State, Robin had no less than 8 hooks in one game — a masterclass:

Here’s a season compilation of Captain Hook:

Overall

In retrospect, Lopez made his contract look reasonable. This is not to say that the Wizards actually could not have got him for less (they clearly did overpay compared to his market value last year), but at least this was no Mahinmi 2.0.

Going forward, I believe it would be wise to re-sign Lopez to something like a 2-year deal at around $3-4.75 million / year as he gives nice value as part of the center rotation and has a positive locker room influence.

Why $3-4.75 million? I can see how Lopez might be tempted to join a “contender” on a minimum contract that would net him around $2.6M. So, clearly, the Wiz would have to pay significantly more than that. One or two million more seems fair given his production in the past season, but much more is probably too much for a third center in the rotation after Thomas and Gafford. A three-year deal at $11M total with a player option (typical Wiz) for the last year seems like a reasonable option for both sides.