Damian Lillard trade might just keep getting worse for the Bucks

What was once a fantastic situation for Milwaukee could continue worsening into a nightmare scenario.
Damian Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks
Damian Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks / Justin Ford/GettyImages

The Damian Lillard trade saga, for better or for worse, was one of the most memorable ongoing developments around the NBA landscape in 2023. For months on end, it was apparent Dame was going to end up somewhere other than the Portland Trail Blazers to start the 2023-24 season, but a perpetual stalemate in negotiations kept things at a standstill until the Milwaukee Bucks made a move.

Acquiring Lillard from Portland while sending out Jrue Holiday, a first-round pick, two first-round pick swaps and Grayson Allen, Milwaukee got the upgrade they had been looking for. After a first-round playoff exit in 2023, the Bucks had officially reloaded with top-level talent and were ready to make another run to the NBA Finals.

One month later, Giannis Antetokounmpo was so thrilled with his front office that he re-signed with the organization. All the pieces appeared to be falling into place, and Milwaukee seemed like an easy choice for a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference. Some media outlets even boldly declared we should skip ahead to the Finals where the Suns and Bucks would be in a rematch.

But as with everything in sports, things are not necessarily what they appear on the surface. As we saw, this past season did not exactly pan out as planned. Damian Lillard was good, but not great, in his first season as a Buck. As we look to the future, there is reason to be concerned about the direction this trade will ultimately lead Milwaukee.

Lillard's age and declining production may spell doom for Bucks

When looking at Dame's performance this past season, he was not nearly the 32.2 points per game scorer he was in the previous year. Lillard's scoring dropped nearly eight full points from 2022-23, with his efficiency suffering as well. Dame averaged a lower overall shooting percentage, three-point percentage, grabbed less rebounds and dished out less assists per game as well.

When we look at his dip in production, we must consider the reality that this was not just a slight deviation for a player at the top of his game and in his prime. Lillard will be 34 years old in just six weeks, and it is more likely we are seeing him take something of a step back in his ability as he ages.

The ramifications of Dame potentially falling off as he gets older are even more significant when you consider his archetype. He is an undersized guard that has historically relied on quick footwork to be able to achieve much of what he does on the hardwood. With that natural ability potentially being hindered, his decline could be disastrous for the Bucks.

Milwaukee already gave up draft compensation and multiple rotation players in order to obtain Lillard's services. They made their bed, and now they have to sleep in it. If Damian is unable to return to being an All-NBA level player in the next year or two, this trade could end up looking terrible for the organization.