The Milwaukee Bucks are poised to run it back in 2023 with their core largely intact. On top of having Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday under contract for the foreseeable future, they also re-signed Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Jae Crowder. Additionally, mainstays Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen remain with the team.
On top of these seasoned veterans, the Bucks signed Malik Beasley and Robin Lopez to veteran minimum deals. MarJon Beauchamp highlights a young group of players that also includes Andre Jackson Jr. and Chris Livingston.
Despite having the best odds to win a NBA Championship in 2024, many fans have been including Holiday’s name in hypothetical trades for stars like Damian Lillard. For some reason, they believe that Lillard, who is a phenomenal scorer but below-average defender, will somehow improve their already-best-in-the-NBA odds. Kevin Durant’s most recent comments, however, should put a stop to those thoughts.
Kevin Durant Revealed the Moment He Gained Respect for Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Jrue Holiday
Durant recently appeared on one-time Bucks guard JJ Reddick’s podcast The Old Man and the Three. In the course of his appearance, he was asked about Holiday and what his thoughts were on the two-time All-Star. He responded:
“He could stand out anywhere. You put Jrue in any system, any coach is going to ask him to guard the best player. We played him in 2018, second round and he was guarding me the whole series. He was picking me up full court, He was guarding me on the post, and actually, it was tough to dribble on Jrue Holiday.
He slides his feet so well he’s got good hands, he’s strong, and he’s got good instincts. Like I gained a lot of respect for him in that series because he went from guarding me to Steph to Klay to guarding Draymond, neutralizing pick and rolls. He’s special.”
Of course, the series that Durant was talking about took place when he was playing for the Golden State Warriors and Holiday was with the New Orleans Pelicans. Ironically, it was also a second round series in which Holiday and the Bucks knocked out Durant and his Brooklyn Nets from the NBA Playoffs in 2021.
The Milwaukee Bucks Are Better with Jrue Holiday
As much fun as it may be to think of pairing Giannis with a player like Damian Lillard, the fact of the matter is that the Bucks need Jrue Holiday. Not only is he an incredible teammate (he’s won Teammate of the Year numerous times) and an incredible community outreach activist, but he also is one of the best defenders in the NBA.
As Durant notes, Holiday is capable of guarding any player at any position, and he does it extremely well. The old adage “defense wins championships” is often forgotten in the high-scoring regular season, but come playoff time its harsh truth sees many a contender eliminated early.
Giannis will always be the heart and soul of the team, but he cannot do it alone. Holiday’s defensive prowess takes pressure off of Giannis defensively while his passing creates easier scoring opportunities for the two-time MVP.
The defense, however, it what really stands out. Earlier this year, 108 NBA players were surveyed anonymously by The Athletic. One of the questions was “Who is the best defender in the league?” Holiday was the top vote-getter with one player noting:
“He’s literally a guy you avoid. Every offense looks to get the ball away from where he is, both guarding the ball and away from the ball. His hands are unbelievable. It’s always been Jrue Holiday for me.”
It should always be Jrue Holiday for Milwaukee, too.