Grade the trade: Bucks land notorious ball hawk in mock deal with Golden State

This proposal would help the Bucks add another defender.
Golden State Warriors v Milwaukee Bucks
Golden State Warriors v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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The Bucks' POV on this mock trade

Bobby Portis has carved a niche as a reliable scorer and rebounder for the Bucks. The point has to be made right off the bat that dealing the consistent Sixth Man of the Year finalist would weaken their frontcourt depth, especially considering Giannis Antetokounmpo's reliance on spacing. Portis' ability to stretch the floor with his shooting is crucial for Giannis' driving lanes, while his steady scoring punch has won them games on more than one occasion.

This is simply to say that on the offensive end, replacing Portis with a relatively unproven shooter like Moody and a relatively one-dimensional scorer like Payton could lead to spacing issues and clogged driving lanes, even if the two bring better resistance on the perimeter.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a simple exchange of offense for defense - but it's one that makes sense for a team with Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton but no other elite defenders outside of Antetokounmpo and an aging Brook Lopez.

But even then, that's without mentioning Portis is a vocal leader and locker room favorite. Losing his energy and experience could have a ripple effect on team chemistry, which has always been one of the more fragile aspects of building a team.

It's probably not an understatement at this point to say that the Bucks have built something special in their locker room over the past few years, and Portis was always an important part of that. The Bucks already lost one vocal leader in Jrue Holiday - perhaps the loss of Portis would be more damaging than they realize.

Then we come to Andre Jackson Jr. Currently, he isn't a regular member of the Bucks' rotation. His playing time has fluctuated, with his minutes the past season even suggesting he's fallen out of favor with coach Doc Rivers. His role with the team is unclear. Whether he'll earn Coach Rivers' trust and carve out a regular role remains to be seen.

But despite limited minutes, Jackson Jr. has shown glimpses of his potential. He's a good athlete with a developing defensive skillset and a decent 3-point shot.

Still, there are clear merits to making this trade. At this point, Gary Payton II needs no introduction. His steadying presence for the Golden State Warriors made him a key cog in their rotation, even if his minutes played and counting stats don't necessarily paint that picture. Despite his size, Payton is a ball-hawk of a different kind: he's a glue guy capable of playing center, and a lockdown defender when the size matchup favors him.

Moses Moody, on the other hand, is a far more compelling prospect whose value is largely in theory rather than practice. Moody's case is one that relies more on the imagination than the on-court evidence he's produced thus far in his career.

He's shown flashes of being a two-way, three-level scoring wing who can competently hold it down on both ends in limited minutes off the bench. Unfortunately, his consistency through the years has been rather stagnant, and it's led to him being surpassed by many of Golden State's younger projects.

But the sweet spot in this deal is that Gary Payton II brings elite on-ball defense, a skill set the Bucks covet. Opponents shot 2.5 effective field goal percentage points fewer with Payton on the court versus when he was on the bench during the Warriors' 2022 title-winning campaign, according to Cleaning the Glass. Opposing teams also turned the ball over 3.9 percent more when Payton was playing.

Moses Moody is a talented young wing, but his NBA experience is limited. Banking on his development to replace Portis' production is a risky gamble. The Bucks are in "win-now" mode with Giannis in his prime. This trade weakens their current roster for a chance at a future contributor in Moody. Is that gamble worth the risk of losing a playoff series?

Bleacher Report suggests this trade opens doors for future deals. While true, sacrificing a valuable contributor for draft capital is a gamble, and the return on investment is uncertain. Still, with the additional capital, the Bucks could most certainly explore trades involving expiring contracts to free up cap space for a more established player who complements their core.

Overall, this trade would be a gamble for the Bucks. They'd lose a proven commodity for unproven potential and future flexibility. While Payton's defense is intriguing, the overall impact on their championship window is questionable.

Grade for Bucks: C