Photos

What does Lillard-Holiday-Ayton trade mean to teams involved?


Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles in the game against the New York Knicks at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, March 14, 2023. /CFP

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles in the game against the New York Knicks at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, March 14, 2023. /CFP

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles in the game against the New York Knicks at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, March 14, 2023. /CFP

Who has benefited the most from the blockbuster trade this week that sent Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, Jrue Holiday and Deandre Ayton to the Portland Trail Blazers?

The full details of the trade are as follows:

The Bucks got Lillard and gave Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, their 2029 NBA Draft first-round pick and the first rounder swaps for 2028, 2030.

The Trail Blazers got Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, the Bucks’ first rounder and the swaps and gave Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson.

The Phoenix Suns got Nurkic, Allen, Little and Johnson and gave Ayton and Camara.

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 2, 2023. /CFP

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 2, 2023. /CFP

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 2, 2023. /CFP

As the center of this three-team deal, Lillard gave the Bucks what they needed the most, game-changing explosive firepower in the back court. Despite that the Trail Blazers missed the playoffs for the second season during the 2022-23 campaign, Lillard averaged 32.2 points and 4.2 triples per game, both career highs, at 37.1 percent. He scored 36.3 points per game between January 8 to March 22 and dropped at least 40 points in 12 games. He drained 13 3-pointers to get a career-high 71 points against the Houston Rockets on February 26.

Imagine what the defenders’ faces will look like when Giannis Antetokounmpo, arguably the most powerful weapon against the rim in today’s NBA, sets a screen for Lillard one meter or further outside the 3-point line. The Bucks have been struggling with their offense in the playoffs, even in the 2020-21 campaign when they won the title. Antetokounmpo’s individual attacks are too simple and too predictable in front of postseason defense; Holiday is not a trustworthy scorer; Khris Middleton has suffered too many injuries in recent years and he has too little to contribute other than scoring.

Deandre Ayton (#22) of the Phoenix Suns shoots in the game against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado, April 6, 2023. /CFP

Deandre Ayton (#22) of the Phoenix Suns shoots in the game against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado, April 6, 2023. /CFP

Deandre Ayton (#22) of the Phoenix Suns shoots in the game against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado, April 6, 2023. /CFP

Unlike the above three, Lillard can change the opponents’ defense by himself in the perimeter, clearing the space for Antetokounmpo to speed up toward the hoop or for Middleton to launch isolation in the mid-range. If the opponents decide to gather defensive forces in the high post to contain Lillard and Antetokounmpo, they will have to risk being dominated by Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis in offensive rebounds.

Of course, this trade cost the Bucks heavily in their perimeter depth. They had no reliable backup for 33-year-old Holiday in the first place. Allen started 70 games for the last season and played an important role in their defensive system. Lillard has never been a good defender in his entire career. Pat Connaughton will have to shoulder a much bigger duty on this end of the game and share it with 32-year-old, injury-stubbed Middelton.

Whether the Bucks win a title in the coming two years or not, they surely hope that this trade can show Antetokounmpo their commitment to staying in the top race. The Greek Freak will enter the third year of his five-year, $228 million deal in the 2023-24 season. He has a player option after the 2024-25 campaign and is available for a three-year, $173 million extension at most. However, last month, Antetokounmpo said he won’t sign a new deal unless he feels that the team is doing everything they can to assemble a champion squad.

Jusuf Nurkic (#27) of the Portland Trail Blazers grabs a rebound in the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, January 30, 2023. /CFP

Jusuf Nurkic (#27) of the Portland Trail Blazers grabs a rebound in the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, January 30, 2023. /CFP

Jusuf Nurkic (#27) of the Portland Trail Blazers grabs a rebound in the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, January 30, 2023. /CFP

The Suns got rid of Ayton via the three-team trade. It may sound unreasonable that the team doesn’t want a 25-year-old first-overall-selection who averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds at 58.9 percent from the field last season, but the Suns have nothing but an awkward role to give Ayton after they traded Chris Paul for Bradley Beal with the Washington Wizards. Ayton needs a traditional playmaker to feed him the ball and prefers to shoot jumpers in the high post for his offensive work. Neither Beal, Devin Booker nor Kevin Durant is close to a traditional orchestrator. What they need in a big man are solid screens and efficient finishing performances next to the rim, the two things that Ayton has never been good at.

By contrast, Nurkic doesn’t have Ayton’s soft touch or his agility to switch to cover perimeter players. He is a top-three screen setter in the league. That matters very much to Beal, Booker and Durant, all of whom shoot to kill off the dribble. Moreover, Nurkic has been used to playing like a blue-collar center, especially in protecting the rebounds and the rim. He can also distribute the ball in the high post after setting screens, which will help Beal, Booker and Durant release their powers in separations.

Jrue Holiday (#21) of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles in Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoffs against the Miami Heat at Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida, April 24, 2023. /CFP

Jrue Holiday (#21) of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles in Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoffs against the Miami Heat at Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida, April 24, 2023. /CFP

Jrue Holiday (#21) of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles in Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoffs against the Miami Heat at Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida, April 24, 2023. /CFP

Landing a prospect in Ayton and a veteran champion guard in Holiday is unlikely to change the Trail Blazers’ goal of rebuilding, at least not for the 2023-24 season. The good news for Ayton is that there is no clear leader at the moment in Rip City. He seems to be the biggest star on the team’s roster compared with Anfernee Simons or rookie Scoot Henderson. In his sixth NBA season, Ayton may finally be given a bigger role than the third offensive option of the team.

Holiday is a different case from Ayton. His experience as a champion guard is not necessary for the Trail Blazers, whose rebuild begins from scratch. His player option for the 2024-25 season, first-class defense and the solid playmaking ability make him very attractive to teams that are one key piece away from assembling a competitive squad for the title race. The following teams have no reason not to be interested in trading for Holiday:

The Miami Heat failed to acquire Lillard, but Holiday’s style of play fits the team.

The Los Angeles Clippers have reportedly shut down trade talks with the Philadelphia 76ers over James Harden, but Holiday can play well next to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

The Boston Celtics have been trying to trade Malcolm Brogdon to whom Holiday can make a great upgrade.



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button