The seven-time NBA All-Star, the 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist, and the Portland Trail Blazers’ trailblazer has become a Milwaukee Buck. He spent 11 seasons in Oregon but never won the NBA championship. Does that all change now at the age of 33?
The Superlatives Don’t Stop for Lillard
There might not be enough adjectives in the English dictionary to sum up how good Damian Lillard has been throughout his career. A consistent shooter, he’s been named to the NBA All-Star roster in seven of the 11 seasons he’s participated in. That’s a decent return. Even at the tail end of the last NBA season, while the team finished outside the playoffs, he still played well. That attracted some media outlets to state that he is potentially the best offensive player in NBA history. Whether or not he should sit on that particular throne is up for debate, but what isn’t is that the Bucks have got a determined player who’s ready for silverware. After all, this is the man who hit 71 points in a single game while playing for a team that didn’t make the postseason. Dame announced the move shortly after thanking his Portland fans: 10m on Instagram.
How Does Lillard Make the Bucks Better?
The quick answer would be that he just does make the Bucks better. Damian Lillard brings the Bucks a lot of different stellar attributes, but the breaking news article is going to speculate just how good the Milwaukee Bucks offense will be next season. The team always keeps the ball with the most rebounds per game (48.6), and Brook Lopez can usually win it back from a ball, so the offense is always in play. The Bucks regularly won games with 100+ point tallies last season, so an in-form Lillard makes for a very interesting proposition.
Lillard has also been known to be a consistent performer throughout games, usually able to still bring out his A-game in the clutch situations. Last season, the Bucks were awful toward the end of games in their first-round series against the Miami Heat. They lost one quarter 41-25, an aberration. Lillard is known not to let ships sink and takes leadership roles when needed to ensure that nobody drops below his expected standards.
Any potential link-up play with the two Greek players, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, is a simply spellbinding concept. While Lillard likes to shoot, he’s more than capable of knowing when to pass. While they’ve yet to play a competitive game together, some outlets are already saying they’ll be as good as the tandem of Steph Curry and Draymond Green.
Will Dame Pull Rank over Griffin?
Mike Budenholzer was a pretty good coach. He won the Coach of the Year award in 2019 and guided the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA Championship in 2021. 391 games with a 69%+ win rate, some might have considered he would be spared from the axe even when the Bucks crashed out of the first round of the 2022-23 playoffs. Nope, management decided that they wanted a fresh face for a new era – despite Budenholzer still overseeing a 58-24 season, the best of the entire NBA.
Regardless, the new man hired as the Bucks head coach is Adrian Griffin. The former player takes the step up from an assistant coach to the main role as he returns to the franchise he started his coaching career with back in 2008. Since then he’s traveled the width and breadth of the US for his career. He was notably part of the Toronto Raptors coaching staff that won the NBA Championship in 2019.
The big question is, why is a rookie head coach (with no head coaching experience) being given the chance to coach a legendary player in a season when the Bucks will want to return to the apex of the NBA? Lillard may want to free up his schedule on Microsoft Outlook so that he can drop in on the coaching meetings. After all, he carries just as much respect and authority (if not more) than the green head coach. It is certainly a big task for a new head coach to simply start managing one of the best players in the sport.
Lillard Has Come to Win
While Dame Lillard could have retired in the summer and forgotten all about competitive sport, that’s not his jam. His seven NBA All-Star certificates look lovely, all printed out and displayed in his living room, but he’d like an NBA Championship ring for his collection. Lillard is smart enough to realize that he’s 33, he’s not getting any younger, and the Trail Blazers aren’t getting any better. He’s had to move to realize his dream.
Dame Doesn’t Have to Worry about Portland Ghosts
Whenever a player moves, there’s always the temptation to worry about the result when you play against their former employers. Luckily for Lillard, there are only two games currently scheduled between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers. The spikier one where he’ll have to go back to Moda Center isn’t until February 2024, by which time he will be fully augmented into the Bucks system. The prior meeting is in late November, so he has a little bit of time to ensure his former teammates don’t upset his new environment.
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