1 Advantage Bucks' Damian Lillard has this summer that he didn't have in 2023

Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Six
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Six / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

There were times this past season when it felt like Damian Lillard wasn't the Damian Lillard that the Milwaukee Bucks thought they'd be getting.

Given that he was traded to the Bucks just a few days before camp opened, it wasn't a secret that his chemistry with his teammates was not up to par, as this move was thrown together at the last minute, which certainly hindered his productivity. Yet, that was not the sole reason for his hot-and-cold play.

Bucks coach Doc Rivers went on The Bill Simmons Podcast and revealed that Lillard didn't come to camp in the proper shape. It wasn't because Lillard was lazy; it was because he backed off working out over the summer due to fear of injury. Of course, he had requested a trade out of Portland, so an injury could have thrown that off entirely.

Rivers said that outside of light running and shooting in an empty gym, Lillard didn't do much over the summer to work on his craft. With the blockbuster trade going down right before camp, Lillard had to play catch up and get back into shape. He won't have such a problem this summer.

Damian Lillard knows he'll be with the Milwaukee Bucks next season

Knowing that he'll be donning green to kick off 2024-25, Lillard won't have to hold back during his workouts this summer. According to Rivers, Lillard has wasted no time making up for last summer's rest-filled couple of months, as he's been doing rigorous two-a-day workouts.

On that same front, Lillard will now have legitimate time to build chemistry with the team's top players, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. He didn't have much of that last season, and it showed, as there were stretches where they were not on the same page. It will also certainly help to have the same coach leading the charge, as Rivers will almost certainly not be going anywhere.

There's no doubt that last season was a controversy and injury-filled year that featured a roster that endured a major shakeup at the last minute. Now, things are different, and the Milwaukee Bucks will operate with a clearer picture in mind from the jump next season. Before tip-off, the work they put in during the NBA off-season will be crucial, and Lillard already has one big advantage over last year.

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