Pelicans: Will Jonas Valanciunas become more like Brook Lopez?

Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

When the New Orleans Pelicans traded for Jonas Valanciunas they were hoping to get a player who was a better fit with Zion Williamson.

Steven Adams doesn’t shoot much or create space, so Valanciunas should be a better fit as a guy who can step out and hit a jumper.

He could be the Pels’ third scoring option and has been a guy who has been very effective in both the post and mid-range. But can he extend that range?

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If you look at the career of Brook Lopez, it very much mirrors Valanciunas, especially if the latter’s game keeps evolving to fit the modern NBA.

Valanciunas should take careful note of how Lopez’s game has changed, as it might be where he is headed.

Pelicans: Will Jonas Valanciunas change his game to mimic Brook Lopez?

Brook Lopez just won a title as a role player for the Milwaukee Bucks but people forget just how good this guy was in his prime.

Lopez was one of the best bigs in the game, and routinely scored at or near 20 points per game with the Nets, mostly as a traditional center who operated in the post.

But the game started to change and Lopez saw that he needed to change with it or go the way of dinosaur. When he was 28-years-old, in his 9th season in the league, Lopez started to launch 3-point shots.

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Lopez had always been a pretty good mid-range shooter, so extending to the 3-point line seemed natural and he has been good at it, hitting as high as 36.5 percent on 6.3 attempts per game for the Bucks.

Lopez became a weapon who could draw the other team’s center away from the hoop and create space for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who needs room to operate in the paint.

Valanciunas is 29-years-old and entering his 10th season and may be ready to make a similar transformation. He hasn’t shot many 3-point shots yet, in fact, he averaged less than one per game last season, but he did hit 36.8 percent of them.

The Pelicans also have a guy in Zion Williamson who loves to live in the lane, so if Valanciunas can start shooting and hitting more 3-pointers, it should open up some space for Zion to do his thing.

Valanciunas has a nice stroke and shoots free-throws well, so I see no reason he can’t extend his range and shoot 4-5 from long range a game as Lopez has done.

Brook Lopez has given modern bigs a blueprint for how to stay relevant and Jonas Valanciunas should follow it this season.

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