Trade machines and rumors trying to project a Damian Lillard trade have been hot following the All-NBA point guard’s trade request from the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s made it known that his preferred destination is the Miami Heat, but time will tell if that becomes the case.
Regardless of which team lands Lillard, the Blazers should focus on these five players as under-the-radar trade targets to acquire in exchange.
There’s a common theme among these five players. They play for teams that could reasonably make a trade, whether for Lillard directly or as a third team that gets another player because they need a shake-up.
These players would also fit the Blazers’ rebuilding timeline and provide positional length and much-needed defense.
Blazers Lillard trade target No. 1: Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks
Onyeka Okongwu, a 22-year-old forward for the Atlanta Hawks, is an underrated gem in the NBA. At 6-foot-9, Okongwu’s skill set and impact on the court have yet to receive the recognition they deserve.
Drafted as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Okongwu has quickly proven his worth. He averaged 9.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game on 64/31/78 shooting splits last season.
Okongwu’s defensive prowess is evident with his +1.0 defensive RAPTOR rating and 3.5 wins above replacement. While he may fly under the radar, Okongwu’s contributions and potential make him an invaluable asset to the Hawks.
As he continues to develop and showcase his skills, it is only a matter of time before he receives the recognition he deserves as one of the league’s most promising young players.
Now would be the perfect time for the Blazers to pounce on a promising player like Okongwu. The Hawks still have Clint Capela and don’t necessarily need Okongwu if they want to try to contend now around Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Lillard likely wouldn’t be sent to Atlanta due to Young being there, but the Hawks could still be involved as a third team in a trade.
Okongwu would perfectly fit in Portland – the team has been desperately searching for a versatile center that can switch out onto the perimeter and guard multiple positions. As he averaged only 23.1 minutes per game last season, Portland could unlock Okongwu’s full potential with an increased opportunity as a starter.