5 drawbacks for the Milwaukee Bucks after acquiring Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard's trade to the Milwaukee Bucks isn't without its share of cons. While it elevates the franchise to title contenders and a powerhouse in the East, there are still some issues that the front office and the team on the floor will have to address.
To quickly recap, Milwaukee recently pulled the trigger on a mammoth three-team trade involving the Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns that sent Lillard to the Bucks. In return, the Suns landed center Jusuf Nurkic, guard Keon Johnson, wing Nassir Little, and guard Grayson Allen.
The Blazers entered their rebuild with plenty of draft capital along with Jrue Holiday, a 2029 first-round pick, and a future pick swap to Portland. Also joining the ranks was big man Deandre Ayton and forward Toumani Camara, the Phoenix's second-round pick in this year’s draft.
Now, let's look at five drawbacks for the Bucks after adding Lillard to their ranks.
5 drawbacks for the Milwaukee Bucks after trading for Damian Lillard
#5 The Bucks are now reliant on a young bench strength to evolve into strong rotational players
The Bucks will now rely on young players like Chris Livingston, Andre Jackson Jr., Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and AJ Green to go from evolving talent to key players who will be looked upon to contribute heavily in the games their superstars have an off day on.
This also means both Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo would be doing the bulk of the scoring. The third scoring option is Khris Middleton, and that would mean the rest of the unit needs to step up around their three stars, which will cause a challenge.
#4 The team sacrificed their future assets
In their quest to win their second title in the Antetokounmpo era, the Bucks went all out by upgrading their point guard, even if it comes at the cost of sacrificing the future picks.
While there is surely that question of how far the two will go, the team has switched to a win-now mode and made it clear that the championships are the final objective.
#3 Damian Lillard has his defensive limitations
Damian Lillard, for all the incredible shooting and the clutch heroics, is not a two-way player. While he does tip the scales in favor of the team's offensive rating (they were fifth last season), he also has his defensive lapses and is not a stopper.
This means the Bucks will have to heavily bank on the Lopez brothers, Jae Crowder, and even Giannis Antetokounmpo at the four, to hold free-flowing offensive opponents from taking shots.
The message from the team front to prioritize offense is clear, how far it goes remains to be seen.
#2 The Bucks find themselves in a spot in the luxury tax apron
The tax apron set by the CBA puts Milwaukee in a bit of a crunch as they now sit in the second luxury tax apron after acquiring Damian Lillard. This limits them from moving players via sign or trade unless it frees up their cap space. It also hampers their trade exceptions which cannot be used from their previous year.
Additionally, the team's first-round pick seven years out is frozen and is moved to the end of the first round if they remain in the second apron for more than three of the five years.
#1 The Damian Lillard-Giannis Antetokounmpo fit
Damian Lillard is certainly an upgrade over Jrue Holiday, but unlike him, Lillard is more ball-dominant. This means that he and Antetokounmpo will have to figure out how they space the floor and share the rock.
The easiest argument would be for the 'Greek Freak' to barrel his way to the basket, while Lillard would shoot from all over three-point range.
Then comes the teams change in philosophy. Mike Budenholzer was a defense -first coach, and now the Bucks will focus on churning out more buckets under new head coach Adrian Griffin.
While they look formidable on paper, a lot depends on how their chemistry pans out.