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Damian Lillard: Blockbuster Trade to Milwaukee Bucks

If you thought we were going to have to wait through the season for Damian Lillard to get traded, boy, do I have a surprise for you! The BLOCKBUSTER of the year just went through. Damian Lillard’s play to get to Miami has failed. Instead, he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. Let’s dissect the trade and see how it will afffect your fantasy basketball season.

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Damian Lillard Trade Summary

Milwaukee Bucks Get:

Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers Get:

Jrue Holiday, DeAndre Ayton, Toumani Camara, and 2029 1st-Round Pick

Phoenix Suns Get:

Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson

Damian Lillard’s Fantasy Stock

Damian Lillard is now on a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Beasly/Crowder/Connaughton. If I’m being honest, this trade is much better for Lillard’s career chances of getting an NBA Championship, than it is for his fantasy career. Lillard went from a team that had his usage rate at 34% last year, leading to a career-high 32 PPG, 5 Reb, 7 Ast, to a team that had Giannis’ usage rate at 39% (career high) and Jrue Holiday at 25%.

Why would Dame’s usage rate rise after this trade? It wouldn’t. They both want to be required to do less in order to increase their chances of winning a championship. It’s not because they’re lazy, it’s because in order to have a team that wins a championship, you can’t have a key man. It’s too easy to guard and adjust to. That one person has to be historic to win it (like Giannis was in his run, or Jokic last year). You want to have a team with a BIG 3 (or BIG 2), so you can prevent a static gameplan against you.

I expect Dame’s usage rate to be in between Jrue Holiday’s at 25% and Dame’s at 34%, which would give him slightly under a 30% usage rate. The last time he had a 30% usage rate on the Blazers was 2018-19, he averaged 26PPG, 5 REB, and 7 Ast in 80 games. He also made the All-Star team. If I’m being honest, we may see those kinds of numbers from Jordan Poole this year (on a team devoid of star talent). Damian Lillard is no longer worth a 1st round pick in fantasy in my opinion. His fantasy stock is down from this trade.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Fantasy Stock

I expect Giannis’ stock to stay the same, if not fall slightly. But let’s be honest; Giannis does far too much for it to matter. He gets double-digit rebounds from just being alive. He led the league in paint points last season, and that won’t change. He also earns so much gravity (receiving double teams as he drives to the paint) that he gets assists from simply making a pass. The Bucks now have more efficient shooting in Dame and a healthy Khris Middleton for the year. I expect Giannis to have similar numbers in less minutes this year. He’s still worth your top-three pick this year.

Fantasy Stock of Everyone Else

Jrue Holiday is on the Portland Trail Blazers at the moment, but they are not expected to keep him. Rather, they will trade him to a contender that could use an All-Star caliber point guard, that can actually play elite perimeter defense. That would be Miami, LA Clippers, etc. Holiday’s stock is the same on Miami, as he’ll be required to score, but not as much on a team like the Clippers, who have Paul George and Kawhi Leonard as first options. We will have to wait and see there.

DeAndre Ayton finally got shipped out of Phoenix. His situation was essentially unbearable. He was pissed he didn’t get the BIG max contract. He was getting benched in the playoffs. He wanted out. Be careful what you wish for. Now he’s in Portland and will be an afterthought in the rebuild. He better hope he gets an increase in his 23% usage, otherwise, he’s going to have the career arc of Andre Drummond. A big body who once received max contracts, only to no longer be considered a winning player. GMs are going to view Ayton’s stats as empty, and the next teams he’s on after Portland are going to be in depth roles. For this season though, you can expect much of the same from Ayton. Portland is going to highlight their wing play.

Nurkic, Allen, Little, and Johnson are afterthoughts in fantasy now. They are depth pieces in Phoenix, and that’s if they even stay there. Nurkic could have a chance at filling Ayton’s 22% usage, but it’s unlikely. He was barely getting 25 minutes per game in some games and has a bit of an injury history. Nurkic is the only draftable piece of this group, and possibly Allen in categories leagues for his three-point and steals ability.


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