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Five Questions with The Bird Writes

Diving a little deeper on Milwaukee’s trade with New Orleans with our good friends over at The Bird Writes.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks acquired Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and a multitude of draft picks. Did the Bucks give up too much? How will Jrue mesh with Giannis and the Bucks? Find out below!

The trade from The Bird Writes perspective...

1) The Bucks have never had a ball-handler who could throw accurate lobs for Giannis coming off pick & rolls or back door cuts. It might not sound like a big deal but those are still points being left off the scoreboard. Having already played with Anthony Davis, do you believe that already gives Jrue a big advantage when looking to throw lobs Giannis’ way?

I wouldn’t advocate using or thinking of the term ‘big advantage’ for several reasons. One, Holiday is a decent passer with adequate vision — he’s not special in the facilitating department. Oh, he’ll often make the right play, like take advantage of an assignment mismatch or when he’s got a good head of steamrolling downhill to hit the open man for a lob dunk, but it’s not as automatic as one would hope. I can recall one too many times where Holiday tried forcing passes when they weren’t there, throwing the ball into traffic when he was actually the one with the easier scoring opportunity.

The second reason is more obvious: Holiday and Giannis are likely going to need some time to develop the necessary chemistry to confidently attempt bang-bang plays on a consistent basis during the NBA’s already fast style of play.

2) Jrue is often regarded as one of the most underrated players in the NBA by his peers and the media. That being said, the Bucks shelled out a ton of draft picks to acquire his services. In terms of the return value, is this what you were looking for or did it exceed your expectations?

It definitely exceeded my expectations, and most others I’ve talked to as well. While I had heard from more than one corner the Pelicans were going to acquire a significant return for Holiday, I wasn’t 100% sure the trick could be pulled. A 30-year-old, who is likely to play just one more year under his current contract (Holiday is expected to turn down his player option next offseason), shouldn’t net three first-round picks and two swaps, right? Especially from a team not certain to keep their MVP for the long-term.

David Griffin apparently has an innate ability of squeezing everything out of championship contenders that need to add that one piece which may put them on top because the Bucks acquiesced to his demands. Then again, Milwaukee wasn’t just trading for Holiday — they were also paying to keep Giannis from leaving or asking out in the near future.

3) I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so I am a suffering UCLA Bruins sports fan. I have watched Jrue play the entirety of his career. For Bucks fans who might not be as familiar with him, what kind of player/person are the Bucks getting?

The Bucks are receiving one of the most well-rounded players in the entire league. He’s fantastic in isolation situations — on both sides of the ball — and the versatility he possesses for a 6’4 guard is beyond ridiculous. Can’t tell you how many times fans witnessed Jrue get switched defensively onto a big, but Holiday walked away the winner even when his man tried to take advantage of him in the post.

The title of “one of the best two-way players” isn’t an illusion; Holiday has consistently been one of the best on-the-ball defenders for years and his offense is reliable enough that he can get a bucket or make a play for someone else when necessary.

The biggest downside is the rollercoaster production on offense. Consistency has evaded him of late, so when mediocre teams like the Pelicans are forced to rely on wavering results, it’ll reflect negatively in the W/L record. I recently wrote an article on this exact topic.

To end on a positive note, Holiday’s best season was far and away the 2017-18 campaign, and many believe the reason for that was because he wasn’t asked to bear the brunt of responsibility. While Rajon Rondo’s numbers didn’t stand out, what he did for the mentalities of Holiday and Anthony Davis was truly a god send. I expect for Giannis to provide Holiday a similar peace of mind.

4) How do you see Eric Bledsoe and George Hill panning out in New Orleans? Will the team look to buy one or both of them out? Or roll with the punches and see how they mesh with Zion and company?

I’m fully expecting for the Pelicans to move on from at least one of Bledsoe or Hill via trade before the end of this week. Word on the streets is that both players have lists of suitors so talking about buyouts should be out of the question.

If forced to guess, Hill will get moved very soon and Bledsoe gets kept, whether to the trade deadline or for only the whole season. While the Pelicans have a glut of guards, several people are going to have to fill Holiday’s shoes. Kira Lewis Jr. isn’t going to be ready for big minutes right away and I’m not sure Stan Van Gundy is ready to place enormous trust in second-year player Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

5) Jrue has dealt with some injury problems throughout his career. However, if he can stay healthy, do you believe the acquisition of Holiday tilts the needle in Milwaukee’s favor to winning an NBA championship being that he is on the right side of 30 years old?

I think that if Milwaukee and Sacramento can figure out a way to make a Bogdan Bogdanovic deal work once free agency begins, then both he and Holiday would be enough to make the Bucks the favorites to emerge out of the East.

If Bogi goes elsewhere, Milwaukee is going to need to unearth a good Plan B. You can’t lose Bledsoe, Hill, and possibly Wesley Matthews but only add Holiday.

If you want to get more insight into this trade from Brew Hoop’s perspective, make sure to read my answers over on The Bird Writes.