Although counterintuitive, considering the Milwaukee Bucks’ defense has looked atrocious as they trail the Miami Heat 3-1 in the NBA Playoffs, the NBA’s All-Defensive Team awards recognizes the league’s best defenders during the regular season, where the Bucks were worldbeaters. Giannis Antetokounmpo (First Team forward), Brook Lopez (Second Team center), and Eric Bledsoe (Second Team guard) each earned spots ahead of Tuesday night’s Game 5.
2019-2020 NBA All-Defensive teams:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 8, 2020
First team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, Marcus Smart, Ben Simmons
Second team: Bam Adebayo, Patrick Beverley, Eric Bledsoe, Kawhi Leonard, Brook Lopez
Giannis made the All-Defensive First Team last year, and was this season’s Defensive Player of the Year. His ability to roam on the weak side allowed him to wreak havoc on opposing offenses, and his impact was recognized by the voters:
Here are the full Defensive Team voting results: pic.twitter.com/3L4OKrfygM— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) September 8, 2020
Eric Bledsoe was on last year’s First Team as well, and while his individual performance declined a notch he was still a crucial part of the Bucks’ point-of-attack defense. He’s Milwaukee’s best guard when it comes to defending the P&R and getting through screens, and his lateral speed helps force ball-handlers to make the tough decisions that the Bucks’ defense prided itself on.
Congratulations @Ebled2!! pic.twitter.com/c6pPhu53ra— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) September 8, 2020
Brook Lopez was widely considered a snub last season, and followed that up by having an even better season this year. He improved his play recognition, communication, and patience when protecting the rim in the Bucks’ zone-drop scheme, completing the long journey from his questionable defensive reputation he earned during his Brooklyn days.
Surprised to see Brook Lopez on Second Team All-Defense?— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) September 8, 2020
You shouldn't be. Here is what made him so great on that end this season: https://t.co/JiWja9SNZ4
2020 has been a weird year, and the Bucks’ season was cut short and forever altered even before the Orlando bubble was a thing. However, Milwaukee had a special stretch of play that deserves recognition, no matter what happens in the playoffs. We’re glad to see these three earn spots on the NBA’s All-Defensive Teams and, hopefully, they get a chance to enjoy their time in this spotlight a little bit longer.