It’s not controversial to say that things have not been all smooth sailing for the Milwaukee Bucks to start the 2023-24 NBA season.
There have been plenty of highs and lows, and one of the major reasons has been everyone on the roster adjusting to playing with one another. This includes superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, who are trying to get used to playing with another elite player. The tandem has had a good amount of growing pains early, but they are committed to figuring it out.
On the latest episode of the “#thisleague UNCUT” podcast, NBA insider Chris Haynes revealed that Antetokounmpo and Lillard have been spending plenty of time together recently as they attempt to put the pieces together. As transcribed by HoopsHype:
"“I know Dame was at Giannis’ house over the weekend working out at his house, they were watching film, those two are committed to trying to enhance each other collectively. And then in turn, that’s going to enhance the team’s play. So they’re doing everything they can behind the scenes to try the make this situation be a successful situation. But it’s going to be a work in progress.”"
Lillard and Antetokounmpo working closely
This should be music to the ears of Bucks fans everywhere. While they are perfect fits alongside one another on paper, it was never going to be a seamless fit right away. Hearing that they are in the lab constantly trying to get more acquainted with one another outside of team practice and the games themselves is terrific news.
There’s plenty these two could be talking about, but a few major talking points could involve who brings the basketball up at certain points, where each other like to be on the floor, and how to get the most out of what could be a historically good pick and roll combination. All of these have been brought up by everyone throughout these first few games.
Lillard is still very much trying to find his groove, as it’s clear he’s still adjusting. Through six games with the team, he’s averaging 22.7 points while shooting 40 percent from the floor and 32.6 on his 3-point attempts. Everyone knows he’s capable of producing more at an efficient rate, but these early continuity issues have gotten in the way.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been better, putting up 26 points, nine rebounds, and 3.2 assists per contest, but it’s clear he still hasn’t been his best self. He’s clearly been trying to get used to being alongside another ball-dominant superstar, as the synergy just hasn’t been there. There are times when he’ll have to let Lillard be Lillard and sacrifice his own incredibly high usage rate.
Once Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo get on the same page, the duo’s full potential will be unleashed. For now, in the early going of the season, the growing pains will be there, as well as with all of the new players and coaching staff. At 4-2, the Bucks have done more good than bad this season, but there is still plenty of room to grow and things to work on.
It should be an interesting and exciting season for the Bucks, but any success they see will hinge on this star duo figuring things out. The best recipe for chemistry is game reps, but it certainly is welcoming to see these two superstars working together behind the scenes as well.
Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.