Nikola Mirotic trade grades: Bucks make perfect addition to bolster squad for playoff run
Milwaukee has added yet another outside shooter to its elite offense
The past week has been as hectic as ever, but the actual deadline day has been a bit slow so far. So far, one of the bigger deals of the day involves the Milwaukee Bucks, who have been active in the trade market throughout the season.
Here are the grades for each team.
Milwaukee Bucks: A
- Nikola Mirotic
The Bucks have made some big changes this season. First, they brought in new head coach Mike Budenholzer over the summer, and signed Brook Lopez and Ersan Illyasova. Then, earlier in the season, they swung a trade for veteran point guard George Hill.
So far, it's been a roaring success. They have the best record in the league at 40-13, the best defense (103.7 defensive rating) and the best net rating (plus-9.9 points per 100 possessions). Now, in picking up Mirotic, they've made another move to improve their revamped offense.
The veteran forward is pretty much a perfect fits for the Bucks' five-out offense. He's shooting 36.8 percent from 3-point land this season, and is yet another big that the Bucks can put around Giannis Antetokounmpo. Mirotic will help space the floor and open up even more room for the Greek Freak to operate.
And to get him, all they had to give up was Smith, who barely plays, Johnson, who they got for Thon Maker earlier this week, and some second-round picks. Even if Mirotic only ends up being a rental for the Bucks, this is a great bit of business for them. They have a chance to contend for a title, and they're really going for it.
According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, the move gives Milwaukee a big boost to win the East, while also improving its title odds.
New Orleans Pelicans: B
New Orleans receives:
- Jason Smith
- Stanley Johnson
- Four second-round picks
After getting to the second round of the playoffs last spring, the Pelicans had high hopes for this season. Unfortunately for them, injuries derailed the early part of the season, and Anthony Davis' trade request has prevented them from ever getting back on track.
With Davis expected to be gone by this summer at the latest, the Pelicans need to transition into a rebuild, and moving their veterans is the first step. Mirotic is going to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer, so it especially made sense to try and move him before losing him for nothing.
In the end, they did a decent job. Smith is simply salary filler, so that's whatever, but Johnson is former top-10 pick and they'll get a few months to evaluate him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He hasn't ever developed in the way the Pistons hoped, and can't shoot -- like, at all. Still, he's only 22 years old and a pretty versatile defender. This isn't a bad flyer for the Pelicans to take.
Plus, they got four different second-round picks. And while that's certainly no guarantee, it's never bad to give yourself a bunch of extra chances in the draft. This isn't the greatest haul of all time, but they certainly could have done worse for a few months of Mirotic.
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