Can Giannis be a full-time center?
A Lopez trade would most likely mean that Giannis Antetokounmpo would become the starting center because the point of this trade is getting a defensive-minded shooting guard or a small forward. Maybe the package could include a backup center, but it doesn't look like there's a scenario where it would make sense trading Lopez for another starting five. If this is done, Giannis is playing center. So we're force to asked ourselves one question, which is can he?
Well, he has and it has worked, so an easy answer would be yes. But it's not that easy because this change brings a lot of positives but also some question marks.
On one hand, defense would gain flexibility and switchability, which is big. Those Porzingis pick and pop and Maxey pick & roll plays change quite a bit if he's the one playing this position. He would also play closer to the rim, so he could make a better use of his intimidation. Opponent power forwards wouldn't get open threes, which has been a huge problem sometimes. And, since he's already the primary rebounder and a great shot blocker, the interior defense doesn't necessarily changes that much.
But there are some potential issues to consider. Giannis shines as a help defender; he's at he's best when he's roaming around and he wouldn't be able to freely do that anymore, because in this context he would be the primary and only rim protector. That means he couln't take some superstars like Jimmy Butler or Jayson Tatum either, because there wouldn't be another player in the lineup to match against Bam Adebayo or Porzingis respectively. He would be a little more handcuffed, which isn't flat out a bad thing but it's something to take into account.
However, the biggest potential flaw could appear against players like Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic. It's not like Giannis cannot defend them. We've seen him do it in a very effective way. But those kind of matches require a physical sacrifice that he's not asked to do on every possesion when he plays power forward. He would be risking more contact (and more fouls), so he may struggle to be fully fresh as a scorer. And, despite being a key part of Bucks' defense, he's needed big time on offense too.
In short, there's a lot to be considered about this idea, and it looks like General Manager Jon Horst knows that. If Dejounte Murray rumors hold some truth, they mean to me that he’s thinking about something big, not just a Connaughton plus a second round pick trade.
And hey, if you don’t want to get rid of Brook Lopez, we can always shave Robin Lopez. Maybe nobody would notice.