- Milwaukee’s NBA Championship odds improved significantly following the team’s deadline deal for Nikola Mirotic
- Can the 27-year-old forward help the Bucks hold onto the top seed in the Eastern Conference?
- Will Mirotic’s shooting power the Bucks past the Warriors in the NBA Finals?
The best team in the NBA got a little better on Thursday afternoon.
The 40-13 Bucks bolstered their already deep line-up by acquiring forward Nikola Mirotic from the Pelicans just ahead of the league’s trade deadline. Milwaukee will send forwards Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four second round selections to New Orleans in exchange for the highly coveted sharpshooter.
Mirotic made a major impact on the Pelicans push to the Western Conference semifinals upon arriving in New Orleans prior to last year’s trade deadline. Now, Bucks — the East’s best team — get even better. And they don’t have to give up a first-round pick.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
Johnson was with the Bucks for less than 24 hours after being acquired from the Pistons in a separate deal for seldom-used big man Thon Maker.
Maker-for-Johnson is an ideal change-of-scenery deal for two young former lottery picks. Johnson can work to find a role on a contending team, and Maker will get an opportunity for playing time with Dwane Casey.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 6, 2019
Oddsmakers have been keeping close tabs on Milwaukee’s wheeling and dealing and they clearly like what they’ve seen. The Bucks’ odds to win the 2019 NBA championship have improved from +1200 on February 6th to +1100 on February 7th. The Bucks now have the second shortest title odds in the Eastern Conference and the third shortest odds overall.
2019 NBA Championship Odds
|Team||Odds to Win 2019 NBA Championship|
|Golden State Warriors||-175|
Mirotic Gives Bucks Yet Another Weapon
The Bucks, who are second in the league in scoring at 117.8, don’t have a lot of weaknesses on offense, but one area they could stand to improve upon is their three-point accuracy. That’s where Mirotic comes in. The 27-year-old gunner is hitting 36.8% of his career-high 7.2 attempts from beyond the arc this season. Mirotic has never been shy about letting it fly, and at 6’10”, he’s blessed with the length to shoot over nearly every defender in the league.
The Bucks are already shooting 13.1 more threes per game than in 2017-18, and with Mirotic in the lineup that number is likely to continue to tick upwards. Expect him to be the first big off the bench and to soak up many of the minutes allocated to fellow stretch four Ersan Ilyasova, who is averaging just 6.1 points in a career-low 17.3 minutes per game.
Nikola Mirotic Career Stats
Sixers and Raptors Were Also Active
The Bucks weren’t the only Eastern Conference contender to shake up their roster. The 76ers swung for the fences by trading for sweet-shooting forward Tobias Harris, and the Raptors went for broke by acquiring three-time All-Star Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. The younger Gasol is a playoff-hardened pro whose staunch defense and superb passing should make him a perfect fit in Toronto.
BREAKING: The Raptors acquire Marc Gasol from the Grizzlies for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles and a 2024 2nd-round pick, according to @wojespn
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 7, 2019
Gasol is currently sidelined with a hand injury, but is expected to return to the lineup soon.
Should You Throw Some Bucks on Milwaukee?
The Sixers and Raptors should both be applauded for their bold deadline moves, but they’re still a notch below the Bucks, who lead the league in defensive rating, net rating, rebounding, and plus/minus, and are second in scoring, field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage.
The Bucks lead the league in defensive rating, net rating, rebounding, and plus/minus, and are second in scoring, field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage.
Unlike Philly and Toronto, Milwaukee should also have no issues integrating their latest addition into their offense, as Mirotic is essentially a younger and more efficient version of the player he’s replacing. He’ll be encouraged to shoot early and often and will punish any team that dares to collapse on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the paint.
— ESPN (@espn) February 7, 2019
The Bucks are still a year or two away from toppling the Warriors for the NBA championship, but should be considered the overwhelming favorite to finish first in the suddenly relevant Eastern Conference.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.