Bucks' Bold Move: How Damian Lillard's Arrival Elevates Milwaukee's Championship Aspirations in 2023/2024

Lillard, alongside two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, now forms one of the most formidable trios in the Eastern Conference.

Damian Lillard in a file photo [Image Credit: Instagram@damianlillard]
By Karthik Raman | Sep 29, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Another NBA offseason, another whirlwind of speculations, and this time, the basketball world witnessed a seismic shift as Damian Lillard, the seven-time All-Star and All-NBA point guard, made a surprising move to join the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal. The deal not only reshapes the NBA landscape but also shakes up the betting odds at online sportsbooks, making the Bucks the new favorites to claim the title in the upcoming 2023/2024 season.

The Trade & Its Impact

In a blockbuster trade, the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Damian Lillard, strengthening their pursuit of a championship. Lillard, alongside two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, now forms one of the most formidable trios in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks’ roster now boasts two of the best players in the NBA, catapulting them to the forefront of championship contenders.

The Bucks’ odds to win the NBA title have seen a significant shift, with online sports betting sites valuing them as high as +400 at BetMGM. This move instantly makes them title favorites, surpassing teams like the Denver Nuggets (+475) and Boston Celtics (+550).

The Trade Breakdown

The trade details are as follows:

  • Bucks receive – Damian Lillard
  • Trail Blazers receive – Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, 2029 unprotected 1st round pick (from MIL), and Unprotected MIL swap rights in 2028 and 2030.
  • Suns receive – Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson.

Why Damian Lillard Wanted Out

Lillard’s desire for a championship-caliber team led to this move. He had consistently expressed his loyalty to the Portland Trail Blazers, hoping to win a title with the team that drafted him. However, with Portland seemingly stuck in neutral, Lillard requested a trade. His decision to leave was fueled by the Blazers’ inability to build a true contender around him.

Bucks’ Title Chances with Lillard

In Milwaukee, Lillard reunites with former Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who joined the Bucks coaching staff in June. While they still face some legitimate challenges, notably their aging core and last season’s rough playoff exit, there’s no question that this move is a game-changer. Lillard’s arrival adds depth, especially with his lethal deep shooting ability.

The Bucks aren’t starting from scratch either, having secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season. It was not but two years ago when Giannis and the Bucks last won an NBA title, but Milwaukee clearly recognized the importance of securing a true second superstar to complement Antetokounmpo following their disappointing end to 2022/2023. 

Damian Lillard is (and has been) one of the best players in the entire NBA. Averaging 32.2 points per game last season, he’s a seven-time All-Star and a seven-time All-NBA selection, the only player in Trail Blazers history to accomplish such a feat. He’s also been honoured as one of the league’s all-time greats having been named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021 and his career average of 25.2 points ranks fourth among active players

Now, Lillard aims to fill the one gap in his resume: an NBA championship. With the Bucks, he has a shot, and its clear that the sportsbooks favor them. While parting with Jrue Holiday was a tough decision, the acquisition of Lillard significantly bolsters the team’s chances of winning another championship with the 2023/2024 season just weeks away from tipping off.