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How Damian Lillard Trade Affects Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Other's Fantasy Outlooks

Morgan Rode Sep 28th 3:09 PM EDT.

The NBA briefly stole the headlines away from Travis Kelce, Taylor Swift and their relationship when a blockbuster trade went down on Wednesday afternoon.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns made the league-altering trade, with the headline being Damian Lillard being moved to the Bucks. Jrue Holiday and Deandre Ayton were also part of the eight-player and multiple picks move.

Let’s dive into how adding Lillard to the Bucks affects both him and some of the players already on the roster.

Damian Lillard Fantasy Outlook

Lillard will slot into the point guard position for Milwaukee, giving the team one of their top players at the position in their entire history. Lillard takes the place of Holiday, who averaged 19.3 points, 7.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.4 blocks across 32.6 minutes and 67 games played a season ago.

Lillard isn’t the defensive player Holiday is, but he more than makes up for it on the offensive side of things. Lillard has averaged 25.2 points for his career. 

Last year, Lillard averaged 32.2 points, 7.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.3 blocks while playing 36.3 minutes across 58 contests. Lillard shot 46.3% from the field, which tied his career high, and 37% from behind the 3-point line.

For the first time in Lillard’s career, he’ll be paired with a superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo

What exactly does that mean for Lillard’s averages? His points could take a slight hit, but he should still average near 30 a game. He might take a couple less shots a game, but I’d expect his percentages to bump up a bit as defenses won’t be able to key in on Lillard with Antetokounmpo also in the picture. I’d expect his other statistics to stay at or near to what he accomplished a season ago.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Fantasy Outlook

Antetokounmpo is coming off the best season of his already decorated NBA career. Antetokounmpo averaged 31.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocks across just 32.1 minutes and 63 games played.

Antetokounmpo shot 55.3% from the floor for a second straight season. His 3-point percentage plummeted to 27.5%, while his free throw percentage dipped to 64.5.

Just like he will affect Lillard’s numbers, Lillard will do the same to Antetokounmpo. A dip to below 30 points could happen, but I also like Antetokounmpo’s overall shooting percentage to be a bit better. His rebound, steal and block totals should all be pretty similar, but I could see his assist average going up a bit with Lillard on the receiving end of some of his passes.

If Antetokounmpo were to average an extra minute or so a game, he could still achieve his points per game average from a season ago.

Khris Middleton Fantasy Outlook

Middleton battled injuries for a good portion of the 2022-23 season. When he returned, he helped the team average nearly five more points a game.

He finished fourth overall on the team in points per game (15.1). He played in 33 games and averaged 24.3 minutes. Middleton scored between 10-19 points 19 times, while finishing with 20+ points on seven occasions.

While Middleton’s points per game average dropped five points from the previous season, his overall shooting percentage dropped under just a percent. His 3-point percentage of 31.5 was the second-lowest mark of his career, behind a 27-game season with Detroit in 2012-13.

Middleton also saw his averages drop for rebounds (4.2) and assists (3.4) last season, but had higher averages in steals (1.4) and blocks (0.2).

Granted that he’s healthy coming into the season, Middleton should serve as the team’s third scoring option. With Lillard and Antetokounmpo averaging near 30 points, I see it more likely that Middleton averages around 15 points than he does over 20. His career average of 17 points a game could be a solid guess for the upcoming season, but he’s still capable of dropping 30+ points a night when needed.

Brook Lopez Fantasy Outlook

Lopez turned in one of his better seasons in several years during the 2022-23 season. The big man averaged 15.9 points, 6.7 boards, 2.5 blocks, 1.3 assists and 0.5 steals across 30.4 minutes and 78 games played. 

His points per game jumped up about three points from the rest of his Bucks’ tenure, with most of that having to do with Middleton being out so long. Lopez was about as efficient as he’s ever been, with a 53.1 field goal percentage and 37.4 mark from downtown. His 3-point percentage was the best in his career.

With Lillard in town and Middleton healthy, I’d expect the stats for Lopez to drop a touch from a season ago. I think he averages either 12 or 13 points a game. His rebound average from a season ago was boosted when Bobby Portis went down with an injury, so averaging closer to five boards a game seems more likely this season. 

Despite getting up there in age, Lopez showed no signs of slowing down on defense. He probably won’t have as many blocks this season, but I’d still expect him to average about two a game.

Other Players to Consider

Lillard, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez should fill up all but one spot in the starting lineup. The final spot could go to Malik Beasley, Pat Connaughton or MarJon Beauchamp if the Bucks want a guard, or Portis or Jae Crowder if they want another big.

Portis has excelled off the bench for the Bucks, so I’d expect him to retain his sixth man role. Portis averaged 14.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.2 blocks across 26 minutes and 70 games played.

The only numbers of Portis that I could see taking a hit would be his points per game, but I don’t think it will be too big of a dropoff. Antetokounmpo usually wasn’t on the floor when Portis came off the bench, but Lillard could be on the court still, so he’d be the top scoring option.

Connaughton and Crowder will offer similar points per game on the offensive end, but Crowder is the better defender, so I like his chances to start over Connaughton.

Connaughton averaged 7.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.2 blocks across 23.7 minutes and 61 games played a season ago. I don’t see Connaughton’s numbers being altered too much after the Lillard addition. If anything, I could see Connaughton gelling well with Lillard, as the two played together in Portland for a couple seasons.

Picking the fifth starter between Crowder and Beasley is where it gets tough for me. Beasley is the better offensive player, but the Bucks will have plenty of scoring power in their starting lineup already, so I could see Beasley coming off the bench.

Beasley averaged 12.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.8 steals and 0.1 blocks across 25.8 minutes and 81 games played between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers last season. I like his chances to achieve similar numbers by coming off the bench. If he’s starting, then I’d expect closer to 10 points a game.

Crowder averaged 6.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks across 18.9 minutes and 18 games played. He fell out of the rotation during last year’s playoffs, but won’t be playing for the same coach, as Milwaukee fired Mike Budenholzer and hired Adrian Griffin. I’d expect his point production to be around five a game, but his rebounds totals to go up. I think he’ll put up similar stats whether he’s starting or coming off the bench.

Beauchamp will be entering his second NBA season after having shown some flashes of being an impact player a season ago. He averaged 5.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.1 blocks across 13.5 minutes and 52 games played. He scored over 10 points in 11 contests. I’d like him better off the bench in fantasy, as that would give him the best chance of scoring.

Overall, the addition of Lillard should really only affect point averages for his teammates. Lillard's presence on the floor should also open opportunities for others, so I'd be comfortable drafting any of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Lopez and feel pretty safe about Portis as well. Some of the other players we discussed don't have as clear a role, but should all play a good amount of minutes, so they are ones to monitor throughout training camp and as the season moves along.

#bucks #damian-lillard #giannis-antetokounmpo #khris-middleton #brook-lopez

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