Robin Lopez has been one of the league’s best post scorers thanks to his hook shot. He reveals how Hakeem Olajuwon asked him to change it.
The Washington Wizards have been on a tear in the month of April. They were on an 8-game winning streak ahead of their overtime loss to San Antonio last night. They’re still 10-2 in their last 12 games and have a top-10 defense since January 30th.
Robin Lopez has been their one reliable big man in a season filled with injuries and Covid-related absences. The Wizards were one of the worst-affected teams, having 6 of their January games rescheduled due to shortage of squad players.
The 33-year-old traditional big man out of Stanford has been excellent wherever he’s been thrust in by Scott Brooks. He’s always been an excellent paint defender and rim protector, but his efficiency on one particular playtype has been skyrocketing.
The Athletic’s Fred Katz and David Aldridge recently did an in-depth article on the goofy 7-footer. They picked his mind as to how he’s practiced his jump-hook over the years.
Robin Lopez talks about how Hakeem Olajuwon tried to reconstruct his hook shot
Hook shots of all kinds have been an increasingly rarer shot type in the NBA. Even the league’s best post players in Jokic, Embiid, AD and Giannis are much more likely to use traditional layups and fadeaways instead of a rather clunky-looking hook.
The hook shot has always been considered a difficult shot to master. It has a much tougher and variable release than a regular jumpshot, and you have to aim for the rim without having the ball in front of you, making your aim that much tougher.
Still, it’s a shot that Lopez has used since his Suns days to varying degrees of effectiveness. The league’s better big men have tended to clamp him in the past, but he’s been shooting it at a 65.3% clip this year. He’s in fact the league’s second-most prolific hook shot maker after Nikola Vucevic.
He has one move. Opponents know it’s coming. It’s Mariano Rivera’s cutter, but if Rivera threw it 47 miles per hour.
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) April 26, 2021
Lopez says that he’s tried to improve his post play under the Dream Hakeem Olajuwon:
“There was one time, but I don’t wanna discredit the person that was teaching me because he was a far better offensive player than I ever was… He said I should be releasing it up higher above my head.”
“Well, not releasing it, but I should bring the ball more above my head with the hook shot. You can put it in there, but I don’t wanna act like I’m calling him — it was Hakeem Olajuwon so I think he knows what he’s talking about, you know? I don’t wanna (offend).”