NBA: Championship and East Picture After Damian Lillard traded to the Bucks

NBA: Championship and East Picture After Damian Lillard traded to the Bucks

Throughout this offseason the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets have been the betting favourites to win the NBA championship. The Miami Heat were the frontrunners to land point guard Damian Lillard in a trade this offseason after Lillard requested a trade on July 1, according to ESPN. There was a lot of talk about the Toronto Raptors potentially being a trade destination for Lillard over the last week. After months of speculation, a Lillard trade was announced on Wednesday. He will not be a Raptor this year.

Quick Take

  • Damian Lillard traded to Bucks
  • Three-team trade details
  • Bucks favoured to win NBA Championship and East

Milwaukee Bucks Now Favoured to Win 2023-2024 NBA Championship

The Milwaukee Bucks became the betting favourites to win this year’s NBA title after it was announced that the Portland Trail Blazers are trading Damian Lillard to the Bucks. The Bucks have +350 odds to win the championship on BetRivers. This ends months of speculation about a potential Lillard trade involving the Heat. Before the trade, the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets were the betting favourites on NBA betting sites. The Nuggets have the second best odds right now at +450, and the Celtics are right behind them at +550.

The combo of Lillard and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo looks like one of the two or three best in the league on paper. The Raptors were rumoured to be one of a few teams interested in trading for Lillard. According to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, the Raptors were hoping to make a trade with the Trail Blazers that did not include Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, or O.G. Anunoby. With Lillard in Milwaukee, a potential Raptors trade for former Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday has been brought up around the NBA world. The Raptors currently have +15000 odds to win the title this year, that is 20th in the league and tied with the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls. 

Trade details

According to ESPN, Lillard was traded to the Bucks as part of a three-team trade between the Bucks, Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns. The Bucks received Lillard. The Trail Blazers received Holiday, center Deandre Ayton, forward Toumani Camara, and draft compensation. The Suns received center Jusuf Nurkic, guard Grayson Allen, forward Nassir Little, and guard Keon Johnson. At +600, the Suns have the fourth best odds to win the championship.

Eastern conference picture

The Bucks are now favoured to win the Eastern Conference also. They have +130 odds on BetRivers. The Celtics with +250 odds are second. Three teams are tied for third: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors sit tied for eighth with the Nets and Bulls. Outside of where James Harden will land if he is traded, the east playoff race looks a lot more clear now that Lillard is heading to Milwaukee. 

The Bucks and Celtics are the clear two top teams heading into the season on paper. If both teams are healthy, there are few reasons to expect another team to come out of the east. The Heat lost a couple of their better players in free agency, none of the Cavaliers players have had a lot of playoff success, and a Harden trade seems inevitable. The rest of the east teams do not have the star power that the Bucks and Celtics have.

Still, the Cavaliers, 76ers, New York Knicks, and Heat are a few teams that could upset the two top teams or emerge as a favourite if the Bucks or Celtics deal with injuries. The Cavaliers have a lot of young talent that could take the next step. Donovan Mitchell could play his way into the MVP conversation, similar to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander last year. The 76ers have one of the best players in the league in Joel Embiid and a rising star in Tyrese Maxey. If the 76ers do not trade Harden or can get some good players back in a trade, the 76ers should be able to contend. The Heat and Knicks are a long shot, but have talent and familiarity on their side. The Raptors could potentially make some noise if Barnes and Anunoby improve and if luck is on their side this season.