BucksSpotlight12:8

Dec 7, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) takes a shot against Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) in the first quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 2022-23 edition of the Bucks Weekly Spotlight. Each Thursday, we’ll track the progress of the players who are trying to help Milwaukee make another championship run and give updates on other players from the previous week.

This is the 5th edition of the 2023-23 Bucks Weekly Spotlight.

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Guard Jrue Holiday

When you play on a team with All-Stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton plus characters (and good players in their own right) such as Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

It’s also easy to forget how good another player can be, case in point Holiday.

Holiday has been an All-Star just once – back in 2012-13 – which seems hard to believe. He’s been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive team four times, twice on the first team, and twice has been tabbeed the league’s Teammate of the Year.

But Holiday does everything. He can play defense, as noted by the awards listed above, but also can score, distribute, rebound, steal and come up with the occasional block. 

This past week, Holiday once again put all his skills on display – but especially his scoring ability.

Against the Lakers on Saturday he poured in 28 points to go with nine assists and six rebounds. After sitting out a game at Charlotte, Holiday came back with 17 points, 10 assists and eight boards in Orlando. Then in Wednesday’s home win over Charlotte, he scored 31 points – just his second time reaching 30 this season, the other coming back on Oct. 28 vs. Atlanta when he had 34.

Thirteen of his points against the Hawks came in the third quarter – 13 of Milwaukee’s 29 that period – with Antetokounmpo sidelined with foul trouble. He nearly single-handedly helped the Bucks stay in the game.

Holiday is scoring a tad more this season – 18.9 points per game, which would be his highest average since coming to Milwaukee. But he’s also averaging 7.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds – both of which would also be highs with the Bucks (and the rebounds would be a career high). 

Holiday had a +19 and +18 box score plus/minus the past two games marking the 11th and 12th times this season he’s been at +10 or higher.

His plus/minus per 100 possessions is +12.1 – a +15.5 net. Both marks are the highest on the Bucks.

It all adds up to this: When Holiday starts this season, the Bucks are 15-3 (.833) and when he doesn’t they are 3-3 (.500; note: he did come off the bench in one game in which Milwaukee lost).

There’s certainly a lot to appreciate when it comes to Holiday.

BUCKSHOTS

– This week in Giannis: The best player in the world is on a different level lately. Antetokounmpo has scored 30+ points in eight straight games, a streak that dates to Nov. 21. The tear is one of the best we’ve seen in the NBA this season – Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is the only other player in the league this year with a streak of 30 or more in 8+ games; Doncic opened the season with nine in a row – and the second-greatest scoring rush in Bucks history … behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had 30+ in 16 consecutive games for Milwaukee from Feb. 2-March 1, 1972. Abdul-Jabbar posted a streak of eight that same season (March 6-21). Giannis is averaging 35.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 5.9 dimes during his run.    

– Three-time All-Star small forward Khris Middleton, aka “Khash Money,” compiled 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, two rebounds and seven assists last Friday against the Lakers in his 2022-23 season debut. The impressive numbers – and minutes (26:34) – signaled Middleton is healed from offseason wrist surgery. He was inactive the next game, along with the rest of Milwaukee’s Big 3, but returned to play in Bucks wins Monday and Wednesday. Rust was obvious in the former against Orlando – Middleton went 1-for-11 overall and 0-for-7 from 3-point land – but less apparent at Fiserv Forum vs. Sacramento. Middleton grabbed six rebounds and dished six assists to complement 14 points (45.5 FG%) vs. the Kings.

– Big Brook Lopez still doesn’t get enough love for the impact he makes on the offensive end. In three games this past week, “Splash Mountain” rained multiple 3-pointers in each and averaged 14.7 points. On the season, Lopez is averaging 15.3 points – his best mark since pouring in 20.5 per game in 2016-17, his final year with the Brooklyn Nets. Of course, he’s getting credit and DPOY attention for dominating in another area, specifically swatting shots. Lopez leads the NBA with 2.9 blocks per game. Six times this season, including Dec. 3 at Charlotte, Lopez has notched five or more rejections. That’s a bonkers stat.

– Playing in all four of Milwaukee’s dates this last week, Bucks fan favorite Bobby Portis collected a couple more double-doubles, raising his season total to 14 – in 24 games, by the way. Portis is amidst a super efficient shooting stretch inside the 3-point line. Dating to Dec. 2, he’s sank 24 of 37 2-point shots (64.9%). Here’s a number of note: Portis assisted on seven buckets, a season high, Dec. 3 vs. the Hornets. 

– Bucks marksman A.J. Green is on the rise. One of Milwaukee’s two-way guys, Green got the green light to let it fly from behind the arc Dec. 3, clipping both his 3-point attempts en route to a career-high eight points across a little more than 13 minutes on the floor. That was a preview of his performance Dec. 5. In just 10 minutes against the Magic, Green rifled five shots from deep and connected on three. He finished with 12 points – and no other statistics. Green’s role shrunk vs. Sacramento – he was in the game for 1:18 and didn’t attempt any shots. His 3-point prowess makes him a candidate for future minutes.