The Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA championship in 50 years with their 4-2 series victory over the Phoenix Suns in last season’s NBA Finals.
But in order to prevent another extended drought between championships, Milwaukee must prepare for a rested and readied slate of competitors for the 2021-2022 season.
The Bucks must ignore DraftKings most recent 2022 NBA Championship odds, considering both the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers stand ahead of them on that list.
“We might never win another one. It's fine. We did it. We did what we're supposed to do. And I’d rather do it this way — win one this way than go somewhere else in a super team and win two or three.” @SportsCenter conversation with Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo: pic.twitter.com/6z5U7IyydH
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) July 21, 2021
3. Solid Returning Core
The Bucks boast a well-constructed roster.
Beyond the five-time All-NBA talents of Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee sports All-Stars in Holiday, Brook Lopez, and Middleton.
Although the Bucks lost P.J. Tucker in free agency, the team returns the bulk of the rotation that won a tightly contested Eastern Conference and battled back from multiple 0-2 holes in the playoffs.
This core can parlay that postseason experience into preparing for next season’s playoffs.
The team added further depth to the backcourt with the signing of veteran guard George Hill.
This roster stands as one of the league’s top defensive units with stars that pack an offensive punch as well.
Those versatile talents will be necessary to overcome the odds en route to a repeat championship.
2. Versatile Complementary Stars
The Bucks are built around two-time MVP Antetokounmpo.
But what vaulted Milwaukee to the NBA Finals and ultimately the championship remains the surrounding talent.
The Bucks went all-in last offseason to acquire the versatile talents of Holiday.
Holiday and Middleton proved to be the perfect complementary stars aligned next to Antetokounmpo.
Holiday paired the playmaking ability of a true point guard with a perimeter defensive moxie desperately needed in Milwaukee.
Middleton, meanwhile, has grown from a second-round pick to a well-rounded, two-time All-Star.
Middleton averaged 23.6 points per game in the playoffs, often relieving the pressure off Antetokounmpo to score in the halfcourt.
These two players provide offensive punch and playmaking outside of Antetokounmpo.
Both Holiday and Middleton return next season with gold medals around their necks, thanks to their play this summer with Team USA.
1. Antetokounmpo Remains An Elite Talent
Antetokounmpo’s performance in his first NBA Finals appearance turned heads.
The 26-year-old became the first player in NBA Finals history to average over 30 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists per game while shooting at least 60 percent from the floor.
He averaged 35.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game in the series.
In the series-clinching Game 6, Antetokounmpo went for 50 points, becoming only the seventh player in Finals history to do so.
He added 14 rebounds and five blocks, all in a relatively tight contest.
And Antetokounmpo accomplished all of this despite playing with a hyperextended knee.
Antetokounmpo came up clutch from the free-throw line, where he’s historically struggled, netting 17 of 19 attempts in Game 6.
This added to Antetokounmpo’s already impressive resume, which includes two league MVPs, a Defensive Player of the Year award, and five All-Star selections over eight seasons.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the 1st player in NBA Finals history to average 30+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists on at least 60% shooting.
61.8 FG% pic.twitter.com/PTBDmDl3Es
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) July 21, 2021
As long as Milwaukee sports Antetokounmpo on the roster, the team will certainly be in title contention.