The 11-year veteran spent his first nine NBA seasons with the Nets after being drafted 10th overall in the first round out of Stanford in the 2008 draft. But he didn’t hit his first 3 until Jan. 10, 2015 , when he was 1 for 2 in a 98-93 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
It was the only 3 he would hit that season. He made just two the following season.
The transformation happened before the 2016-17 season, when Kenny Atkinson became head coach after serving as assistant under then-Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer.
“At the time, it was kind of the system that we ran in Brooklyn,” Lopez recounted in explaining why he took up the 3. “It was something he wanted to implement, and he had great confidence that I could do it.”
Lopez said he was already comfortable hitting mid-range and long jumpers in game situations. Spotting up from behind the arc was something he did in pickup games with friends growing up, but he didn’t have the confidence to shoot 3s in games.
So he put in a lot of work on his shot before the 2016-17 season, working out in team drills where they would practice five-out looks. Personal workouts were devoted to shooting 3s.
“It was a step just from shooting them, and my practice and workouts, and shooting them in games,” Lopez said. “You just have to confidence to shoot them in games.”
Lopez was 3 of 31 combined from 3-point territory over his first eight seasons. He was 134 for 387 (34.6 percent) in 2016-17.
Lopez moved on to the Lakers last season, when he was 112 of 325 from 3 (34.5 percent). He’s well on pace to shatter that his career bests in just 13 games with the Bucks .
Milwaukee is undergoing its own transformation with Budenholzer now coaching of the team. He has instituted a similar system Taking Milwaukee that stresses proper spacing and taking good shots. If a 3 isn’t there, All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo can be unstoppable driving to the lane.
If defenses collapse on Antetokounmpo, he can find open shooters on the perimeter like Lopez.
“You talk to old coaches, old teammates, front-office people that have been around Brook, you almost have to ask him to get off the court” in practice, Budenholzer said.
Appropriately, Lopez took some extra time after practice, shooting 3s with guards Tony Snell and Pat Connaughton before finally wrapping up.
“So the way that he’s grown his game and become just a really effective 3-point shooter, a really effective player, that takes work,” Budenholzer said. “And I think we’re all reaping the benefit of that.”
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