All 27 moves that led to the Bucks winning the 2021 NBA Championship
The Milwaukee Bucks won a nail-biting Game 6 against the Phoenix Suns to win their first NBA title in 50 years. Giannis Antetokounmpo just had one of the greatest NBA Finals performances of all time with a 50-point masterpiece to go with 14 rebounds and five blocks as he helped the Bucks clinch the series.
The Greek Freak garnered the 2021 Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award with averages of 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks during this year’s NBA Finals. After trailing 2-0 in the series, the Bucks got their groove back and dismantled Phoenix by winning four straight games.
The Bucks had a solid roster entering this year’s postseason. Khris Middleton proved to the world how underrated and underappreciated he is. Sure, Giannis was the Finals MVP, but Middleton was the one knocking down clutch bucket after clutch bucket when they needed it most. Middleton averaged 24.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in six games. Jrue Holiday was a roller-coaster ride on offense, but he was very consistent on the defensive end of the floor. Holiday was a pest on defense as he hounded Devin Booker and Chris Paul for the most part of this series.
To get to this point, the Bucks had to make a lot of moves that directly led to their rotation in the NBA Finals. Also, don’t forget about the move that didn’t happen with the whole Bogdan Bogdanovic debacle.
Here are 27 moves that led to the Bucks winning the 2021 NBA Championship. Note: These moves span over four coaching tenures, two front-office regimes, and two ownership periods.
June 25, 2009: Drafted Brandon Jennings with the 10th overall pick
Brandon Jennings is a cult legend in Milwaukee. Jennings helped the Bucks make the playoffs as a rookie but fell short as the Hawks outlasted them in seven games.
#BucksIn6, always, per Brandon Jennings
June 28, 2012: Drafted John Henson with the 14th overall pick
The Bucks drafted John Henson from North Carolina as they needed someone to occupy the power forward role.
June 27, 2013: Drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick
The Milwaukee Bucks took a chance on a skinny kid from Greece, and boy did it pay off. This is where Giannis’ NBA story began.
July 31, 2013: Sign-and-traded Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton, and Viacheslav Kravtsov
After making just two playoff appearances for the Bucks since drafting Jennings, both parties decided to part ways as the guard got traded to the Pistons. Brandon Knight was the main piece that Milwaukee wanted, but little did they know that Khris Middleton was what they needed.
July 9, 2015: Signed Greg Monroe to a 3-year deal worth $50 million
After coming off multiple seasons averaging double digits in points, Milwaukee signed Greg Monroe from the Detroit Pistons. Monroe continued averaging double digits in points for the Bucks up until his final year.
July 9, 2015: Re-signed Khris Middleton to a 5-year deal worth $70 million
Khris Middleton continued to progress every year, and the Bucks saw a lot of potential in him. Milwaukee rewarded Middleton’s efforts with a big contract.
October 1, 2015: Signed John Henson to a 4-year extension worth $48 million
No offense to John Henson, but he pretty much robbed the Bucks in this one. He was a reliable role player but wasn’t worth this much.
July 7, 2016: Traded the draft rights to Albert Miralles to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a sign-and-trade for Matthew Dellavedova on a 4-year deal worth $38.4 million
Matthew Dellavedova was a pest on defense and saw his value rise after the Cavs’ 2016 championship run. The Bucks loved what they saw in Delly and acquired him.
September 19, 2016: Signed Giannis Antetokounmpo to a 4-year extension worth $100 million dollars
After his production increased year after year, Milwaukee inked Giannis to an extension. He averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists during the 2015-2016 season.
June 27, 2017: Drafted D.J. Wilson with the 17th overall pick
Milwaukee drafted a stretch big in D.J. Wilson, who made a name for himself at Michigan.
November 7, 2017: Traded Greg Monroe, a 2018 protected 1st-round draft pick, and a 2018 protected 2nd-round pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Eric Bledsoe
Milwaukee traded for Bledsoe hoping that he could fill the void as the No. 3 option. Bledsoe was a solid player for the Bucks, but he was not consistent enough when it came to the playoffs.
June 21, 2018: Drafted Donte DiVincenzo with the 17th overall pick
The Bucks have a gem in Donte DiVincenzo. He is a low-usage wing player who makes shots when needed and plays great defense. He unfortunately missed most of the playoffs due to an injury.
July 17, 2018: Signed Brook Lopez to a 1-year deal worth $3,382,000
What a bargain! Signing a two-way big man to a very cheap deal is what you call a robbery.
August 1, 2018: Signed Pat Connaughton to a 2-year deal worth $3,256,359
Pat Connaughton is similar to DiVincenzo. He is also a low-usage player who just does what he is asked to do. He played heavy minutes during this Finals run after DiVincenzo injured his foot.
December 7, 2018: Traded Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, a 2021 1st-round draft pick, and a 2021 2nd-round draft pick in a 3-team trade in exchange for George Hill, Jason Smith, and a 2021 2nd-round draft pick from Washington
George Hill brought in experience to a young Bucks team. Hill was a key player off the bench at that time.
March 1, 2019: Signed Eric Bledsoe to a 4-year extension worth $70 million
Rather than lose him for nothing, the Bucks extended Eric Bledsoe’s contract.
July 6, 2019: Re-signed Brook Lopez to a 4-year deal worth $52 million
Lopez got paid what he really deserved. He averaged 2.2 blocks for the Bucks before inking the extension.
July 9, 2019: Re-signed George Hill to a 3-year deal worth $28.77 million
George Hill inked this deal after a solid outing in the playoffs that year.
July 11, 2019: Re-signed Khris Middleton to a 5-year deal worth $177.5 million
After making an All-Star team, Middleton’s stock further increased as he continued to produce at a high level. He was eventually rewarded with a hefty extension.
November 23, 2020: Re-signed Pat Connaughton to a 3-year deal worth $16 million
Connaughton does not put up eye-popping stats, but his contributions go beyond the scoreboard. Getting a player of his quality for this much was a bargain.
November 24, 2020: Traded Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, the 2020 24th overall pick, the right to swap 2024 1st-round picks, a 2025 unprotected 1st-round pick, the right to swap 2026 1st-round picks, and a 2027 unprotected 1st-round pick in a 4-team trade in exchange for Jrue Holiday, Sam Merrill, and the 60th overall pick
Jrue Holiday is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. The Bucks went all in for him and immediately had an impact in his first season with the Bucks.
November 25, 2020: Signed Bobby Portis to a 2-year deal worth $7.5 million
Bobby Portis, man, this guy’s energy is off the charts. A crucial piece of the rotation, he scored 16 points in the title-clinching game against Phoenix.
November 26, 2020: Signed Bryn Forbes to a 2-year deal worth $4,791,147
This signing was also a bargain because this dude is a flamethrower behind the arc. He torched the Miami Heat in the first round.
December 15, 2020: Signed Giannis Antetokounmpo to a 5-year extension worth $228.2 million
Giannis came a long way. After winning two MVPs and Defensive Player of the Year, among other accolades, The Greek Freak deserved it. Giannis will go down as one of the best players to put on a Bucks jersey.
March 17, 2021: Traded D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson, their 2023 1st-round draft pick, and the right to swap 2021 2nd-round picks to the Houston Rockets in exchange for P.J. Tucker, Rodions Kurucs, and their own 2022 1st-round pick
The ultimate 3-and-D player, P.J. Tucker. The sneaker king helped the Bucks in a big way with his hard-nosed defense. This is the type of player you always want on your team.
March 29, 2021: Signed Jeff Teague to a 1-year deal worth $808,073
Good pick up from the buyout market. Jeff Teague is a savvy veteran who helped the locker room with his voice and experience.
April 4, 2021: Signed Jrue Holiday to a 4-year extension worth $135 million
Two-way players are a solid investment in the NBA. Holiday played a crucial role in this year’s title run.