Damian Lillard Joins Bucks, Fulfilling His Contender Dream

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Damian Lillard Joins Bucks, Fulfilling His Contender Dream

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After more than a decade with the Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard, a seven-time All-Star, recently made his debut with the Milwaukee Bucks. The preseason game felt more like a regular-season showdown, with ESPN cameras, a sold-out arena, and intense on-court action typically reserved for meaningful games.

Lillard’s new journey with the Bucks began with a 108–97 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers, and his smile upon leaving the locker room spoke volumes.

Amidst discussions about money and Miami, what Lillard truly missed was the energy, excitement, and the opportunity to play for a legitimate contender. In his first game donning a Bucks jersey, Lillard contributed 14 points in just 22 minutes.

Although his shooting was somewhat rusty (3-for-10 from the floor) and his timing needed adjustment, he posted a plus-7 overall and showcased some promising moments alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham acknowledged the challenge the Lillard-Antetokounmpo pick-and-roll presents to their opponents, saying, “Good luck to everyone else. I’m glad we only have to see them twice a season.” Coaches across the Eastern Conference are already devising strategies to counter this formidable combination.

In Milwaukee, Lillard’s role may be new, but his familiarity with the Bucks’ offense is impressive. The Bucks’ assistant coach, Terry Stotts, has been instrumental in crafting their offensive strategy, which mirrors what Lillard thrived in with the Portland Trail Blazers for nine seasons. Lillard’s knowledge and willingness to help his new teammates have been invaluable during training camp.

The offseason marked a tumultuous period for Lillard, as his departure from Portland was less than amicable. Despite his loyalty to the Blazers and their persistent attempts to build a competitive team around him, it was a challenge. However, Milwaukee presents a fresh start, and Lillard believes in the opportunity to succeed with his new team.

Lillard’s value isn’t limited to this season alone; pundits have scrutinized his substantial contract, worth $216 million over the next four years, with an additional $63 million in the final year.

Lillard dismisses concerns about his longevity and injuries, stating, “I don’t know why they would think that. I don’t live a hard life. I’ve shown no signs of slowing down. I’ve been healthy my whole career.”

The Bucks are optimistic about Lillard’s future with them. His partnership with Antetokounmpo offers a promising prospect, evident from the Lakers’ preseason game, where they double-teamed Lillard from the start, allowing Antetokounmpo more freedom and opportunities.

While the team acknowledges a learning curve and potential hurdles, they are built to contend for championships. The chemistry between Lillard and Antetokounmpo appears promising.

Lillard expressed his excitement about playing alongside a dominant force and the multitude of options available within the team.

In summary, Damian Lillard’s debut with the Milwaukee Bucks is marked by optimism and excitement, as he aims to bring his talents and leadership to a team built for success.

The Lillard-Antetokounmpo partnership has already caught the attention of the league, and with time, this dynamic duo could lead the Bucks to championship glory.

Reference

https://www.si.com/nba/2023/10/16/damian-lillard-bucks-debut-contender-giannis

https://www.henryherald.com/arena/sports_illustrated/damian-lillard-is-finally-part-of-the-contender-he-deserves-with-the-bucks/article_14722b16-bab6-53cb-aeca-605b380e47fe.html

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