Though he didn’t play in Tuesday’s preseason 108-102 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies, Damian Lillard sat down with The Athletic’s Eric Nehm to talk about how he’s adjusting to Milwaukee and being a member of the Bucks.
Being on the Court with Giannis and the Bucks
While Lillard has yet to take the court in a Bucks uniform, he has been able to practice with the team and that includes his highly decorated teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Like Nehm said in his article, when talking to Lillard, the topic of playing alongside Giannis is going to pop up; Dame didn’t play with anyone that has the accolades that Giannis holds as a basketball player. Even just after a week of working with him, Dame can definitely tell a difference in the way he’s playing.
“It definitely feels different. And it looks different because you got shootings all over the floor. So the floor was just more open.”
It was a breath of fresh air almost for Lillard, saying his initial playing experience left him in disbelief at times, seeing how tough his teammates were playing defense.
“I mean, they’re covering. They’re there, but it’s just like — I never had to shoot it. Like, I come off and I’ll make the right play over and over and over and over. But you know, my role is I’ve had to be more aggressive. I’ve always had to be aggressive…I was always just making the play and then I’d have little spurts where I would score some more points and I’d just average 20 points.”
Letting Dame be Dame
Antetokounmpo has made it very clear that he’s going to let Dame be Dame, making things as easy as possible for his teammate on the floor. Lillard thought before joining the Bucks that his teammate had a selfless attitude but Antetokounmpo has far exceeded those expectations.
“I told my agent I was extremely excited because, at this stage in my career, I want to win. I want a chance to win, so coming into a situation with a guy as dominant as he is…he wants to win too. I think we’re very like-minded when it comes to being a teammate and being unselfish and just doing whatever is necessary.
“I think the way that he plays and the way that I play, we’re going to get our opportunities to do what we do. And I realize, just like he realized, the more that we can be on the same page about that, the more dominant we can be as a team.”
Lillard also told Nehm that a ‘WOW’ moment that stuck out to him were two plays that Antetokounmpo did and made them look super simple.
“It was in practice and I come off of a screen and the guy is fronting him. And I’m looking at it like obviously I can get to him, but the weakside defender is there on the opposite block and I’m like, “I don’t want them to get it.’
“So that was different for me. And I threw it up. He jumped up, caught it, turned and he just two-handed dunked it real quick. And it was like, ‘I’ve never played with nobody that’s capable of that.'”
I have no doubt that the Milwaukee Bucks will work it out and both Giannis and Lillard will be strong forces on the court. Both are here to win a championship, both are here to win games, both are here to succeed and it sounds like right now, they have a good system going. Damian Lillard is impressed by the hard work he’s seen from the team even in the preseason.
“The discipline that I’ve seen, it’s not just this guy or that guy; it’s like everybody is on top of their stuff. And I think collectively that just equals success. I don’t see how it doesn’t. Nobody is like ‘Look at me’ Or, ‘Oh, I gotta do this.’ Or, ‘I gotta do that.’ It’s just like everybody is on point with what they have to be doing and it’s like adults, professionalism and people that care about it and take it serious.”