But Milwaukee could miss defensive stopper Jrue Holiday, whom the Bucks had to ship out as part of the deal to acquire Lillard. Holiday’s own peers voted for him as the NBA’s top defensive player in an anonymous poll conducted last season by The Athletic.
The Bucks’ expectation likely is for Lillard’s scoring prowess and playmaking ability to make up for any shortcomings on the defensive end. But as the seven-time All-Star told reporters at Bucks media day, he’s not an easy pass either.
Damian Lillard on his approach on the defensive side:— BASKETBALL ON 𝕏 (@BasketballOnX) October 2, 2023
"I'm not gonna come in here and be Jrue Holiday, i think in my personal opinion, he's the best defender on the perimeter.... I ain't a push over " pic.twitter.com/n3uUqNYX6b
“It’s not going to be what people just throw out there loosely,” Lillard said. “The people that I play against will tell you, I ain’t a pushover.”
Pride aside, the numbers show Lillard’s defense is lacking. He ranked No. 245 among NBA guards in defensive rating last season. His fit on defense could be a significant reason why the Heat weren’t willing to give up a big haul in a potential deal.
Lillard’s new Bucks teammates might have to cover for him on defense, even as he lights it up on the offensive end with Giannis.