3 Young Bucks just got far more important following Damian Lillard trade

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 07 (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 07 (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

It still feels very weird to say that the Milwaukee Bucks now have Damian Lillard, but they sure do.

The point guard was recently acquired in a three-team deal involving the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns, where the Bucks shipped out Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, and picks. Even if Lillard is a clear-cut upgrade on offense compared to Holiday, he does not bring the same strong defense, which has caused many fans and analysts to worry about how Milwaukee will hold up defensively.

Following the trade, the Bucks have three young wings whose importance just went through the roof in terms of how this team may look defensively.

3 Young Bucks just got far more important following Damian Lillard trade

With Jrue Holiday gone, the Bucks’ lost one of their best and most versatile defenders. While they still have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, the team needs more players who can make a significant impact on that side of things on a nightly basis.MarJon Beauchamp, Andre Jackson Jr., and Chris Livingston are three players who could potentially help in that regard.

Beauchamp is expected to take on a larger role for Milwaukee this coming season, and his defense could be a major reason why. His defense was one of the big reasons the Bucks selected him as a first round pick in 2022, as he’s a 6-foot-6, incredibly versatile, and athletic wing who can guard a handful of different positions when called upon.

The young wing could potentially see a major increase in minutes, where he would likely be tasked with guarding household talent often. Fans have even clamored for Beauchamp to start alongside Lillard in the backcourt due to that defensive presence. It remains to be seen what kind of impact Beauchamp can have in a steady role, but the potential is certainly there.

Speaking of incredibly versatile 6-foot-6 wings, the Bucks added another one when they drafted Andre Jackson Jr. out of UConn earlier this year. The guard was an electric defender in college, as he often used his elite athleticism to pester opponents, which carried over into the Bucks Summer League with plays such as this insane sequence.

As a rookie, Jackson is not a well-refined product by any means, and he likely will not play a huge role right away. However, as the team looks to strengthen its defense and establish defenders on the wing, Jackson certainly has a case to earn some minutes, especially since he could very well be a backup ball-handler on top of that.

Lastly, Chris Livingston, the final pick of the 2023 NBA Draft, will also have his own importance as the Bucks sort through their wings. While Beauchamp and Jackson have more upside, Livingston, who is also 6-foot-6, is also intriguing. Livingston weighs more than both of the other two listed, so perhaps he could be used to defend bulkier wings.

Summed up, all three of these players could be used as Milwaukee’s new big wing defender due to their height, athleticism, and known defensive prowess. There are certainly question marks about all of them offensively, but in lineups with Lillard, Middleton, and Antetokounmpo, the questions primarily revolve around who will be helping on defense. These three have the skills to do so.

Coach Adrian Griffin’s player development skills will be put to the test, as he may have to find a way to utilize these three on the defensive end consistently. Their importance has increased over these past few days as questions about Milwaukee’s defense loom. If Milwaukee can indeed get meaningful minutes from them, it would help throughout their title chase.

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