The Milwaukee Bucks have been one of the NBA’s strongest teams for several years in a row, mainly due to the unique brilliance of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo has already led the Bucks to an NBA Championship, and that was without one of the league’s elite point guards.

But now the team has been improved even further in the trade market, the Greek Freak has an elite creative player who is a versatile scorer to form a partnership with in Damian Lillard. The duo arguably became the most deadly pairing in the NBA instantly when the trade was finalized, and they are certainly set to shake up the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks passed the Nuggets and Celtics in the Championship odds

The addition of a single player in Lillard has completely changed the pre-season outlook of the NBA Championship.

Throughout much of the off-season, the Denver Nuggets were seen as the likely winners of the Western Conference, and the Boston Celtics were seen as the strongest in the East.

 
 
 
 

The two have been closely matched in the odds for the overall championship up until the Lillard trade, which has now allowed the Bucks to leapfrog them into the top spot in the basketball betting for next year’s championship winners.

Antetokounmpo and Lillard linking up is certainly a frightening prospect that could prove to be league breaking. The Greek power forward is undoubtedly the highest-quality wing in the NBA after consistently leading the Bucks to the latter stages of the playoffs throughout his time in Milwaukee. But how does the latter compare to his fellow guards in the league?

Lillard’s underlying statistics suggest he will bring inevitable success

The underlying stats suggest that Lillard is as effective a point guard as anybody else in the NBA. In the 2022/23 season, he was the joint-highest average point scorer of any point guard over the regular season with 32.2 points per game.

Crucially, Lillard is one of the league’s most consistent shooters from three-point range. He recorded a rate of 37.1% in 2022/23 which shows that he could be ideal in tandem with Antetokoumpo – Lillard can shoot from any range which is a strength that the Greek star lacks.

The American also averaged more than seven assists per game last season, which will surely increase even further for the Bucks with the movement and size of Antetokounmpo to work with.

Lillard can create shot opportunities from almost any area ahead of half-court, and Antetokounmpo is almost impossible to stop in the paint. Opposition teams could be left with no method of preventing the Bucks from scoring in abundance in the 2023/24 season.

The Bucks will ultimately be adding one of the leading shot-creators and most prolific scorers to the constant threat that is Antetokoumpo.

The two-time MVP winner is tough enough to stop on his own but he will now be partnered by an elite guard to take the scoring pressure off him. Defences may be forced to give Antetokounmpo more freedom and space than he has ever been afforded.

It seems that the arrival of Lillard can only go two different ways, or perhaps both; The former Portland Trail Blazers star continues to be one of the league’s leading scorers in Milwaukee, or he allows his Greek teammate to be an even stronger scoring threat than ever before – either will provide the Bucks with a huge chance of emerging as champions for the second time in four years.

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