Milwaukee Bucks: Can Jrue Holiday win Defensive Player of the Year?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 15 (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 15 (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Jrue Holiday made an enormous impact in his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks.

As Milwaukee’s lead facilitator, Holiday provided excellent defense and solid scoring on the offensive end. Holiday has made a name for himself as one of the best two-way guards in the league. Receiving praise from NBA players such as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, it’s no wonder why Holiday has been thrust into the limelight due to his defensive skillset.

Despite being one of the best defensive guards in the league, Holiday has received very little buzz for the prestigious Defensive Player of the Year award in 2021. Playing alongside the former DPOY in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Holiday certainly has an uphill battle when it comes to chasing the prestigious award moving forward.

With that said, let’s analyze Holiday’s potential case to be included in Defensive Player of the Year discussions.

Jrue Holiday’s postseason defense with the Milwaukee Bucks provided a glimpse into his case for Defensive Player of the Year

Although the Defensive Player of the Year award is a regular-season award, Holiday has the chance to piggyback off his excellent defense in the postseason heading into the 2021-22 season.

Holiday provided timely defense throughout the championship run. Most notably, the steal with under a minute left in Game 5, which led to an alley-oop to Giannis Antetokounmpo. That play alone exemplified why Milwaukee sent a haul to New Orleans to acquire him. The 2020-21 Bucks were very defensive-oriented with players such as Holiday, Antetokounmpo, and P.J. Tucker on the roster.

Although Giannis will always be the focal point for Milwaukee, especially on the defensive end, Holiday has held his own and not only against guards. Although Holiday is undersized, his ability to defend forwards due to his strength has provided a key ability in switching on the defensive end.

In the championship run, Holiday notched an impressive 108.1 defensive rating, according to Even more impressive, Holiday finished higher than Giannis in defensive rating as Antetokounmpo logged a 104.7 defensive rating. Certainly, there were other factors contributing to a lower defensive rating for Giannis, but Holiday’s level of defense while switching one through four lead to a higher defensive rating than the former Defensive Player of the Year.

If Holiday is able to piggyback off his impressive run on the defensive end in the playoffs, we could see him in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.

Will Giannis Antetokounmpo overshadow Jrue Holiday in the chase for Defensive Player of the Year?

One of the reasons Holiday faces an uphill battle is due to playing on the same team as Antetokounmpo. Giannis, the 2019-20 Defensive Player of the Year, has continued to increase his level of defense and has certainly been in the conversation for the award in recent years. Although Antetokounmpo has been the focus in defensive strategies, Holiday burst into Milwaukee and made an immediate impact on the defensive end. With two excellent defensive players on the roster, it is no wonder why Milwaukee was so sound defensively last year. However, with the former Defensive Player of the Year on the roster, will Holiday’s case for Defensive Player of the Year be hindered?

Looking back, it comes as no surprise that the latest Defensive Player of the Year winners have been forwards and centers. In fact, the last guard to win the award was Gary Payton all the way back in 1996. As evident by the results, it is difficult for guards to make a name for themselves in Defensive Player of the Year discussions. Holiday’s case is made even more difficult by having one of the best power forwards in the league on both ends on the same team.

The main argument for Milwaukee’s facilitator to be in discussions for the award is his ability to switch. During the playoff run, Holiday matched up with players such as Chris Paul, Trae Young, and Devin Booker at the guard position while also going toe-to-toe with players such as Blake Griffin, Cam Johnson, and even Durant for a brief stint. He is dynamic due to his ability to defend multiple positions. While he can get out-muscled by stronger bigs, Holiday’s prowess against guards has led to success in shutting down or limiting some of the league’s best shooters. If the 31-year-old keeps up his current level of defense, Holiday could certainly have an argument for Defensive Player of the Year next season.

All in all, Holiday does face an uphill battle in multiple ways. With having the former Defensive Player of the Year on the same team, and the odds stacked against guards currently, Jrue will need an excellent defensive season to be within reach of the award. Holiday has the tools, what matters is the execution on that end.

Next. Milwaukee Bucks: Predicting 2021-22 statistical leaders in major categories. dark

Keep an eye out for Holiday’s high-intensity defense for the Milwaukee Bucks as he looks to earn the most prestigious defensive award in the NBA.