Milwaukee Bucks: Does Jrue Holiday have a point about being Defensive Player of the Year?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 02 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 02 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Jrue Holiday has displayed his defensive brilliance all season long in his first year with the Milwaukee Bucks.

No matchup has proven to be too big or small for Holiday as he’s seen plenty of time and reps guarding some of the premier scorers and players this season and dating back to his time with the New Orleans Pelicans. So much so that even my co-site expert Dalton Sell recently wondered whether Holiday will garner any consideration for the 2020-21 Defensive Player of the Year award, even as the Bucks’ collective defensive steel has slipped from its elite standard.

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It’s safe to say that Holiday himself believes that he not only should be considered for the award, but to earn the honor as he discussed in a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes Wednesday afternoon:

"“Man, I feel like I’m the Defensive Player of the Year every year,” Holiday told Yahoo Sports in an exclusive phone interview. “I’m not joking about that. And I know this is my opinion, and other people have different opinions and they’ll probably think I’m crazy. But I think what I bring defensively on the court, a lot of people don’t really do, to be completely honest.“I feel like I should be in the conversation every year. I’m being serious. This isn’t the first year I’ve been playing defense this way.”"

And for an award whose recipients have traditionally gone to big men, Holiday made his own case for why he stands out among the crowd with his defensive specialties:

"“Look, I don’t know the last time there was a guard or somebody 6-4 or smaller to win the award. And all respect to those who won it recently, but I think to be able to guard some of these guards night in and night out, every single night, and be able to move laterally, moving your feet, fighting over screens, fighting under screens, guarding them one-on-one 30 feet away from the basket. And there were a couple of years where I was blocking a lot of shots for a guard. So I even protected the rim myself. And then at that, I’m guarding positions one through four, and sometimes five. Defensively, I’ve pretty much done it all. That’s why I think I should be in the conversation every year.”"

Jrue Holiday has been the Milwaukee Bucks’ most versatile defender this season

The point that Holiday makes throughout the piece is that what he brings to the table and how it’s not replicated by other players around the league is certainly an interesting point. Despite being guard-sized, Holiday’s defensive technique, strength and athleticism helps him cover all sorts of players beyond his position.

That certainly leads to Holiday taking on some of the biggest and most challenging assignments that one can get in the NBA and Holiday usually acquits himself in every occasion. Even Haynes mentions in his piece that no one has defended the top 10 scorers in the league more than Holiday this season.

As rudimentary as that statistic is, it points to the importance and the breadth of Holiday’s defensive aptitude. And that will certainly only grow as the Bucks enter the postseason and the 30-year-old will go up against some of the top scorers in the East, depending on what their path looks like.

The impact that Holiday has made has been in both raw and advanced numbers. Holiday is averaging a career-high 1.7 steals per game, has a 1.6 block percentage and has a career-high +0.7 Defensive Box Plus-Minus, per Basketball-Reference. Per, the Bucks have allowed 1.2 points per 100 possessions fewer in the 1,839 minutes Holiday has accumulated this season versus the 1,483 minutes he’s been off the court.

For all of the measurements and accolades one can make in Holiday’s case, though, it’s hard to imagine the veteran guard making a dent in the current race brewing between the likes of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons. Still, it’s more than likely that Holiday joins superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo on either one of this year’s All-Defensive teams.

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Holiday pleading his case may not make much of an impact on this year’s Defensive Player of the Year case. However, with a strong playoff run potentially on the way, it’s Holiday who may end up having the last laugh in terms of how he can impact the Bucks’ defensive performances in the only way he knows how.