It might not take the sting out of the season ending sooner than we expected, but recognition is always preferred to being overlooked. The Milwaukee Bucks have, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, had two of their top defenders named to the league’s All-Defensive teams for the 2021-22 season.
2021-22 NBA All-Defensive teams:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 21, 2022
First team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mikal Bridges, Rudy Gobert, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marcus Smart
Second team: Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Matisse Thybulle, Robert Williams III
For Giannis, this marks his fourth consecutive First Team selection (he also has a single Second Team season), solidifying his reputation as an annual lock for one of the top two forward spots for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Jrue Holiday has now accumulated four total seasons resulting in an All Defensive Team nomination; he was First Team in 2017-18 and 2020-21, and Second Team in 2018-19. Although the Bucks were bested by Boston in the playoffs, Holiday got the best of Marcus Smart (who earned a First Team nod) at the end of Game 5, and it’s a sequence worth reliving when discussing Holiday’s stellar defense.
Jrue has long been known for his defensive chops, but based on the evolution of the NBA game it’s simply more difficult for guards to consistently earn praise for their performance on that end. Defensive aptitude is more important – and therefore more valuable, even if just by definition – from the big positions. Either way, Holiday is a crucial part of Milwaukee’s identity, and seeing him appreciated is a pleasant circumstance. For more, check out Eric Nehm’s breakdown of Holiday’s process.
Meanwhile, Giannis continues to spoil us. He was arguably snubbed for Defensive Player of the Year, a race which had a number of worthy candidates, but consistently serves as the backbone of Milwaukee’s basketball structure. Especially this season, with Brook Lopez unavailable for much of the year due to back surgery, Giannis played out of position more than ever before but still managed to establish a no-fly zone around the rim and terrify opposing offenses with his weak-side presence.
As the Bucks approach this offseason, reinforcing the offense is likely going to be a high priority. This is a luxury Milwaukee can afford, given the defensive baseline that stalwarts like Antetokounmpo and Holiday provide; the Bucks will have a strong defense for as long as these guys are at the peak of their powers.