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NBA · 2 months ago

Damian Lillard Trade Makes Milwaukee Bucks NBA Title Favorites

Zachary Cook

Zachary Cook

Damian Lillard Trade Makes Milwaukee Bucks NBA Title Favorites

On Wednesday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks shocked the NBA world after they acquired star point guard Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Blockbuster may no longer exist (thanks, Netflix), but that’s exactly what this trade should be classified as. There were rumblings that trade talks surrounding Lillard were heating up, which came to a head on Wednesday. The Trail Blazers dealt Lillard to the Bucks in a three-way deal that included the Phoenix Suns. Here’s what each team got in the trade:

To Portland: Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, a 2029 first-round pick (Milwaukee), and a Milwaukee pick swap

To Phoenix: Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson, and Grayson Allen

To Milwaukee: Damian Lillard

Despite losing two-way star guard Jrue Holiday in the trade, the Bucks are banking on Lillard forming one of the NBA’s best trios with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Rounding out the Bucks starting five will likely be Malik Beasley and Brooks Lopez. Bobby Portis Jr. will also be considered a valuable sixth man off the bench. As we stand on September 28, it’s hard to find a lot of flaws in this Bucks squad. Yes, they will miss Holiday’s elite defensive presence, but Lillard’s offensive upside more than makes up for that. Defense is undoubtedly important, but the Bucks may score so many points that it becomes less relevant, at least in the regular season.

We saw the Phoenix Suns make a similar gamble when they acquired Kevin Durant last year, and they even took that a step further with the offseason acquisition of Bradley Beal. Can you win with that many stars? Time will tell, but the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, the defending NBA Champion Denver Nuggets, and the Boston Celtics certainly aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

With the Bucks having Lillard in the fold, they’ve jumped to being the favorite to capture the 2023-24 NBA championship. The Bucks boast +360 odds, while the Boston Celtics (+500), Phoenix Suns (+550), Denver Nuggets (+650), and Los Angeles Lakers (+1200) round out the top five. Milwaukee is also listed as a +160 favorite to win the Eastern Conference. 

We’ve already seen the Bucks win an NBA championship, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton being the fundamental leaders of the group. Adding a bonafide star like Lillard should only motivate this group to get back to the promised lands. There might be better value elsewhere on the board because we have seen teams fail early on with such star-studded rosters. Still, the Bucks appear to have the right pieces with this group, and that can go a long way toward making them an appetizing futures bet. 

All odds courtesy of the FanDuel Sportsbook. 

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