The 2022-23 All-Defensive Teams were announced today and have certainly created a conversation between fans across the league.
Along with the best record in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks have two players named to the All-Defensive First Team, and then a certain Giannis Antetokounmpo failed to make either team, to the shock of many fans. The Bucks have a lot to decide over this off-season, but let’s give the players of 2022-23 their flowers for earning these accolades.
Bucks: Reacting to the surprising 2022-23 All-Defensive Teams
The first player to congratulate is guard Jrue Holiday. Across the regular season, he was exceptional, carrying the offense as the Bucks dealt with many issues with player health, whilst maintaining the level of defense and setting the tone, as he has shown over his 13-year career in the association.
For the season, he averaged 1.2 steals per game and 0.4 blocks per game which may not jump off the page, but Jrue’s defense is not one that will show up on the box score. In the 67 games he played, he finished with the second-highest defensive rating of his career at 112.4 per StatMuse. This put him in 21st position across all players in the league in the top five for guards.
The level of Holiday’s defense is even respected by his fellow peers across the league. Last month The Athletic (Subscription required) did an anonymous NBA players poll, in which Holiday finished clear of everyone else in the ‘Who’s the best defender’ category. He was even second place in ‘Who’s the most underrated player.’
Quotes from the poll include: “He’s literally a guy you avoid” and showing his ability “every offense looks to get the ball away from where he is, both guarding the ball and away from the ball. His hands are unbelievable. It’s always been Jrue Holiday for me.” As I mentioned, it may not show up in the blocks or steals column in the box score, but Holiday’s ability on defense is felt by all on the court.
Despite how the season ended, Holiday can be very pleased with how his regular season went, earning his second career All-Star appearance and is more than deserving of being named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Also named to the First Team was none other than center Brook Lopez after his outstanding season. Many Bucks fans, including myself, had him as the Defensive Player of the Year but it was not to be, as he finished second.
Arguably the best season of his career and coming off of back surgery in December 2021, it was incredible that he was even in these conversations. He finished sixth in defensive rating with 109.4 and joint-second in blocks per game with 2.5 whilst leading the league in total blocks with 193.
We all remember the phenomenal games from him this season where he registered nine blocks, seven blocks, and then six blocks on four occasions. Throughout his career, he has always been a great offensive player, but it was the defensive side of the ball where he shone in 2022-23.
The biggest surprise was that Giannis Antetokounmpo was missing from both teams, despite leading the league in defensive rating with 107.7. Per The Athletic insider Eric Nehm, Giannis received 16 First Team votes and 28 Second Team votes, totaling to 60 points and ultimately falling short in the forwards category.
He was similar to Holiday in regards to not filling the stat sheet average, but his sheer presence in the paint puts off the opposition. Alongside Lopez, they made a great tandem this season with teams not even having the confidence to drive into the paint out of fear of having their shots stuffed.
One reason that Giannis may have failed to make either team is that he was playing with Lopez, and the stats Lopez put up were phenomenal. Not to do a disservice to Giannis, but it may have played into voters’ minds.
However, I still want to give him his props on what has been another superb season for him on both ends of the floor, and it is unfortunate he did not make the All-Defensive teams, but that is only fuel for him to come back next season even better.
Stay tuned to see what other Bucks players will be awarded with accolades this postseason.