Grade the trade: Bucks improve backcourt by trading Bobby Portis in mock deal

The Bucks would add a fan-favorite target.
Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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The Milwaukee Bucks' POV

Caruso is a great point-of-attack defender, putting a lot of pressure on the ball, making it hard for the offense to initiate their plays and being very tough to get past. He also fights really hard, getting a lot of deflections, fearlessly going for every 50-50 ball and getting his team a few extra possessions every night, which can make a significant difference in close games.

In that sense, he seems really similar to Patrick Beverley, but he has a few other things going for him. First, he's taller, which makes it easier to play next to Damian Lillard because it doesn't make for such an undersized backcourt. Both Lillard and Beverley struggled with bigger players, but Caruso could contest their shots more effectively, giving the team more ways to stop opponents.

Caruso is also a better shooter, or at least he seems to be at this point in their careers. Beverley shot a decent 36.1 percent in Milwaukee, but Caruso became a somewhat high-volume shooter this season, trying 4.7 3-pointers a game and knocking down 40.8 percent of them.

He's not a Malik Beasley-level shooter, but he isn't the kind of player you can just not guard on the perimeter, which some teams did with Beverley. So, he'd look like an upgrade for the Bucks in basically every aspect of the game.

However, we need to address what the Bucks would be giving in exchange, starting with Bobby Portis. He has been an important piece of the team for quite some time now. Yet, the roster has changed, and he doesn't really fit that well. Since he's still a reliable bench scorer, he looks like the player the Bucks should be more willing to trade due to his value.

Assuming Brook Lopez isn't going anywhere, Portis has the highest value of all the tradable players, so if Milwaukee wants to make an impactful move, his name is going to have to be on the table.

Most of his contribution to the team has to do with the fact that he's the only bench player who can create some offense for himself. Especially in the regular season, he has a big role when the star players are on the bench.

However, Lillard is a way more prolific scorer than Holiday was, so next to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, the Bucks now have three players capable of running the offense. It becomes way easier for them to have at least one of them on the court while the others rest. And because of that, they don't need a player like Portis to step up as often.

MarJon Beauchamp would be the other player leaving in this trade, meaning the Bucks would give up on him before his third season. Would that make sense? More than likely. This writer is a Beauchamp believer, but his ceiling is probably close to what Caruso is right now.

He could become a more versatile offensive player, but it's difficult to envision him becoming such a relentless defender. If the goal is winning a championship next season, the front office has to go with the player who's better right now, even if it means giving up a bit early on a promising young talent. Right now, the most impactful player of the two is Caruso. Clear-cut.

The harder pill to swallow would be trading the first-round pick or possibly even including another one to get this deal done. That's not because they're super valuable. The problem is that if the Bucks trade both picks, they're out of them. Their trade assets are gone, so upgrading the roster further would be pretty hard.

Because of that, a trade like this should only be made if the front office thinks the team would become a top-tier contender, which many think it would. There are some risks involved which need to be taken into account. Fans saw at the last trade deadline that improving your roster when a team is out of first-round picks is borderline impossible, so they need to be careful with how they use them.

If a team has a great star core and can add a winning role player... They might have to go all-in.

Grade for Bucks: A+