Just when the Damian Lillard trade rumors began heating up and numerous NBA teams were being connected to him, the Milwaukee Bucks came out from the left field to acquire the superstar point guard on Wednesday. Lillard now joins Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton to make up the Bucks' big three. Lillard has averaged 28+ points per game in three of his last four seasons and is a clear offensive upgrade from Jrue Holiday, who’s been dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers (who will likely flip Holiday again). The three-team Lillard trade also included the Phoenix Suns, who traded away Deandre Ayton to the Blazers as well. The Bucks have immediately moved into the odds-on favorite in the Eastern Conference as well as the NBA Champion favorites across all sportsbooks. Below, we'll break down the fantasy basketball impact of this Lillard trade and what it means for the Bucks, Suns, and Trail Blazers for the 2023-24 NBA season. This news surely impacts fantasy basketball ADP and our fantasy basketball rankings as you prep for the season.
Damian Lillard Traded to Milwaukee Bucks
Here are the full trade details courtesy of Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN;
Milwaukee Bucks Fantasy Impact
The fantasy values of the Milwaukee Bucks players are vastly different today than they were yesterday. When you look at Giannis Antetokounmpo and the arrival of Damian Lillard, not much changes on their fronts. They’re still, in Antetokounmpo’s case, a first-round fantasy draft pick and Lillard is a second-round pick. We were drafting him at the end of the first, early second, baking in the fact that he wasn’t going to be in Portland next year and was going to be playing alongside at least one superstar. Yes, there is a “big three he’s playing with, but when you look at how many missed games Antetokounmpo had last year as well as Khris Middleton’s number steadily decreasing too, you’re going to have plenty of games with Lillard as THE number one option on a night-to-night basis.
Everyone else in Milwaukee takes a massive hit, however. Khris Middleton, who’s 31 and as previously mentioned, has played fewer and fewer games in recent years is the obvious player on this team to take a back seat. His ADP of 77.9 does not look great right about now and he’s not someone I’d be taking at that spot. Brook Lopez is still great in leagues that raise the value of defensive metrics considering he averaged 2.5 blocks and 0.5 steals/game last season, but his scoring will obviously take a step back. Malik Beasley and Pat Connaughton figure to see expanded roles with Grayson Allen moved, but nothing that screams fantasy value!
Portland Trail Blazers Fantasy Impact
With the trade of Damian Lillard, things have opened up greatly in Portland. They’ve officially entered rebuild mode, well, once they inevitably trade Jrue Holiday. That’s the next domino to fall. Without Lillard, Scoot Henderson, this year's first-round pick, and Shaedon Sharpe, last year’s first-round pick, will have all the room to grow in the back-court. Obviously, Anfernee Simons is there as well, but maybe we see three-guard lineups at times considering Sharpe is 6’6”. It is likely, however, that one of them come off the bench. This is Deandre Ayton’s best chance at proving why he was selected number one overall in the 2018 draft.
- Deandre Ayton’s fantasy ADP - 72.7
- Jerami Grant’s fantasy ADP - 83.4
- Anfernee Simons’ fantasy ADP - 86.7
- Scoot Henderson’s fantasy ADP - 90.0
- Shaedon Sharpe’s fantasy ADP - 121.9
Universally, I’d draft all of these players ahead of their current ADPs. Henderson and Sharpe are the best values, obviously, while Ayton has a chance to have a very high ceiling if he can live up to his potential. I like Grant and Simons and would take them ahead of the current ADP, but not by much.
Phoenix Suns Fantasy Impact
Let’s face it. Deandre Ayton was the odd man out the moment Phoenix acquired Bradley Beal, so moving on from him makes a lot of sense. I’m not sure the addition of Jusuf Nurkic makes them better either, but they did get deeper as a team. Naturally, getting rid of a guy who has averaged a double-double in all five seasons of his career is going to help the value of players still on that team.
1. Jusuf Nurkic /ends list
Nurkic is a quality offensive player in the NBA. He’s a good rebounder, too, as he’s averaged a double-double on two separate occasions throughout his career. He’s being drafted around centers such as Bobby Portis, Ivica Zubac, and Zach Collins. Nurkic is the best option of all of them as he’s reunited with his former backup center in Portland, Drew Eubanks, who basically was in a 60/40 timeshare last season. I could see that playing out this year, which gives Nurk plenty of time to be productive in fantasy basketball.