The seven-time all-star Damian Lillard made his Milwaukee Bucks debut on Sunday in a 108-97 win against the Los Angeles Lakers. Gaining instant praise from his other teammates, it seems that Lillard might finally be where he needs to be in order to get a championship ring on his finger.
The newest Bucks Star Firing Right out the Gate.
Many were impressed with the way Lillard played, even if it was for a short run on Sunday. They were finally able to see him play alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, something Bucks fans have been looking forward to since the trade was announced.
Even Antetokounmpo himself was surprised with how well him and Lillard worked together on the court. They were on the same page right from the jump, Giannis told the media that he felt like he was playing with a little version of himself:
“A guard version….Quiet. Goes about his business. Takes care of his family. Shows up. Practices really hard. Helps his teammates when he needs to be vocal.”
Right out of the gate, Lillard played 22 minutes where he scored 14 points, snagged two rebounds and had three assists. Lillard knew from the opening possession that the Lakers were going to have trouble getting past this dominant Bucks team. Even Lakers coach Darvin Ham was surprised by their efforts:
“Good luck to everyone else. I’m glad we only have to see them twice a season.”
Ugly Split, New Beginnings
Being the new guy in town, you’re gonna have to learn the ropes of how the new team operates. However, Lillard got a little lucky when the Bucks hired assistant coach Terry Stotts, who has been bestowed with the honor to boost the offense, one Lillard was familiar with for nine seasons.
Stotts was the head coach for the Portland Trail Blazer for nine years, so Lillard had a bit of an advantage coming to Milwaukee and knowing a member of the coaching staff very well.
It was an ugly split from Portland for Lillard, and rumors spread all around like wildfire, and as much as he tried to stay optimistic about Portland potentially piecing together a team that could win, it was time for him to find a new environment.
He’ll be able to win in Milwaukee, that probably wouldn’t have been the case if he stayed in Portland.
“This is what we play for,” Lillard said. “To have the opportunity and to be on a team that’s built for success. You can’t ask for more.”
He understands the hype around him being traded to Milwaukee, and how huge this could be for the team. He also knows to be cautious about getting caught up in the hype or reading into things.
But, he knows that his teammates aren’t expecting some miracle to happen just because a big name is coming to their team, they aren’t going to be handed a championship because of a change:
“Nobody just expects it to happen. Like typically when you get in a situation where you feel like we’re supposed to be successful, I get a little nervous that people think it’s just going to happen. But everyone here is like, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ And that’s comforting.”
In the long run, this is going to be something amazing. There’s going to be bumps in the road, and not everything is going to be perfect, even Lillard said “We know it’s a process.”
It’s an adjustment for everyone. Championships don’t just come overnight, but Milwaukee’s chances of getting another championship definitely are heightened.