Will the Damian Lillard trade impact the Lakers’ championship hopes?

On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks shocked the NBA by agreeing to receive Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers in a big three-team trade.

All of a sudden, the Bucks will go from championship contenders to championship favorites, while the Blazers will start a rebuilding process in earnest with some nice young pieces. Those pieces include Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton and Grayson Allen, all of whom they received in the deal, as well as Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons and rookie Scoot Henderson.

The Phoenix Suns were also involved in this trade, and they will receive Portland center Yusuf Nurkic while losing Ayton.

While the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the sideline watching these developments, this trade could have some ramifications as far as their hopes of winning the NBA title this season.

Will Phoenix be more formidable?

The changes the Suns have made are intriguing. Ayton was a very good center for them, but he was mentioned in trade rumors for a while, even after they signed him to a new contract last summer.

Nurkic will replace him at center, and while he may be a better defensive presence than Ayton, he is injury-prone. He hasn’t appeared in over 56 games in a season since the 2018-19 campaign, and he has played in at least 70 games just twice in his nine seasons.

Meanwhile, Allen, Little and Johnson will give Phoenix some much-needed depth. Its depth is still suspect, especially in the frontcourt, but at least that problem has been alleviated a little bit.

The biggest problems for the Suns still remain though. They don’t have a true point guard or floor general, and they don’t seem to have enough of the basic ingredients needed to become a great defensive team.

With Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker, they will have tons of firepower, but they may be eminently beatable.

Do the Lakers have no shot at beating the Bucks in a potential NBA Finals matchup?

At first glance, the Bucks seem to have a nearly unbeatable team. Lillard will be joining Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP, former Defensive Player of the Year and one of the two greatest basketball players in the world. They will have the potential to become the league’s best superstar duo.

They will also enjoy plenty of support from men such as Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton.

The potential crack in their armor is the fact that they had to part with point guard Jrue Holiday to get Lillard. Holiday is one of the NBA’s very best defenders, and while Lillard will greatly boost them offensively, they could very well miss Holiday’s ability to stop people come playoff time.

If the Lakers end up playing Milwaukee for the world championship, they may be able to find some success by attacking Lillard on the offensive end. D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and, to a certain extent, Gabe Vincent should be able to make Lillard expend energy on the defensive end and perhaps expose some holes.

The Lakers also project to have more offensive depth off the bench than the Bucks, and that could be another advantage they could exploit in a potential NBA Finals matchup.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire