Since 1968 the Milwaukee Bucks have become one of the most storied franchises in the NBA. From the lucky coin flip that landed them Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1969 to the gem that they found at No. 15 in 2013, legends of all shapes and sizes have graced the court for Milwaukee. Since the birth of the franchise 54 years ago, the Bucks have won 17 division titles, 3 conference championships and have hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy as NBA champions twice.
From top to bottom, Milwaukee’s all-time lineup is filled with superb NBA talent that has contributed to the franchise’s success in one way or another. The Bucks have yielded countless Hall Of Famers, All-Stars, MVPs, and champions throughout their existence. These players have been defensive stoppers, versatile scorers, and a unique mixture of the two. When all is said and done, Milwaukee presents one of the most complete lineups that we will construct throughout this series.
This is the lineup that is sure to rival even the greatest of franchises.
Guard - Oscar Robertson
Career Stats (with Bucks): 16.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 8.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 2x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection, Hall Of Fame
By the time Oscar Robertson got to Milwaukee, he was no longer the nightly triple-double threat that he was in his prime. He had spent the previous 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Royals. His 4 seasons with the Bucks include doing something he hadn’t been able to do up to that point, winning a championship the 1st year he arrived in 1971. Oscar’s first two seasons with the Bucks also resulted in selections to the All-Star Team. His scoring numbers took a dip in Milwaukee, but that is bound to happen when you play the No.2 option next to Kareem.
In the 1971 NBA Finals, Robertson averaged 23.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 9.5 APG en route to a sweep of the Baltimore Bullets. He led all eligible players in assists during the entire 1971 playoffs on his way to the title. Teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sang high praise for Oscar after the series, claiming his point guard should have at very least shared in Finals MVP honors with him. The Bucks would once again make the NBA Finals in 1974 with Oscar and Kareem, but they would lose in 7 games to the Boston Celtics. Despite not getting to Milwaukee until his later years, Robertson’s impact on the franchise and success is indisputable.
Guard - Sidney Moncrief
Career Stats (with Bucks): 16.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 2x Defensive Player Of The Year, 5x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Team Selection, 5x All-Defensive Team Selection, Hall Of Fame
Moncrief was chosen as a centerpiece for the Bucks franchise during the 1980s, and he delivered. He led the Bucks to the 3rd highest winning percentage in the decade behind only the Celtics and Lakers. Moncrief’s claim to fame was his unrelenting defense and consistent effort on that side of the floor. His defense was rewarded when he was named back-to-back Defensive Player Of The Year in 1983 and 1984, the first two seasons that the award was given out.
What makes his defensive accomplishments more special is what he was doing offensively at the same time. In 1983, he was an All-Star and averaged a career-high 22.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 3.9 APG. The following season, he averaged 20.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 4.5 APG. From 1982 through 1986, Moncrief had 5 straight All-Star appearances and averaged at least 19.0 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 5 straight seasons.
Forward - Marques Johnson
Career Stats (with Bucks): 21.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 4x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Team Selection
Marques Johnson is another Bucks great who contributed to the team’s success in the 1980s. Johnson is said to be one of the originators of the term “point-forward”. More often than not, Johnson was called upon to run the Bucks' offense from his small forward position. Johnson was a versatile scorer and efficient shooter who made the Bucks a perennial contender.
In 1979, in Johnson’s 2nd season, he finished 3rd in the league in scoring with 25.6 PPG. Only Geoge Gervin and World B. Free scored more PPG that season. He also added 7.6 RPG and 3.0 APG and was selected to his first All-Star game. Marques Johnson would go on to average at least 20.0 PPG in 4 more seasons for the Bucks, and that success usually carried over to the postseason. In his 6 playoff appearances for Milwaukee, Johnson averaged a total of 21.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 3.7 APG. He shot 51.8% from the field for his career, well above average for the era in which he played.
Forward - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Career Stats (with Bucks): 21.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.2 SPG. 1.3 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 2x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 1x Defensive Player Of The Year, 1x Most Improved Player, 6x All-Star, 1x All-Star Game MVP, 6x All-NBA Team Selection, 5x All-Defensive Team Selection
At just 27 years old, Giannis Antetokounmpo's career path is already on par with some all-time greats. He has already surpassed Bucks legends and become the franchise leader in points scored, defensive rebounds, blocks, and triple-doubles. Many more records are in his sights as well. We have also seen him take control of games on the highest stage, including a 50-point performance to close out the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals, the Bucks' first title since 1971.
Since 2018, Giannis has arguably been the best player in the NBA and easily the best forward in Bucks franchise history. In 2019, the year of his first MVP, Giannis averaged 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 5.9 APG. He followed that up with another MVP award in 2020, averaging 29.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, and 5.6 APG while also taking home Defensive Player Of The Year. In the 2021 NBA Finals, Giannis dominated with 35.2 PPG, 13.2 RPG, and 5.0 APG and was named the series MVP.
Center - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Career Stats (with Bucks): 30.4 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 3.4 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 3x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, 6x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Team Selection, 4x All-Defensive Team Selection, Hall Of Fame
From the moment he stepped foot in the NBA, Lew Alcindor, aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, made a major impact. Luckily for the Bucks, his first 6 seasons were spent with them. It all began with one of the most dominant rookie seasons in 1970, when Kareem averaged 28.8 PPG, 14.5 RPG, and 4.1 APG. The next years that ensued can be considered the most dominant of Kareem’s career.
Kareem led the league in scoring just twice in his career; both seasons came in a Bucks uniform. In 1971, he averaged 31.7 PPG and 16.0 RPG but saved his most important performances for the NBA Finals. In the ‘71 Finals, he averaged 27.0PPG, 18.5 RPG, and 2.8 APG in a 4-game sweep of the Baltimore Bullets. Kareem was a dominant scorer and defender. He averaged 30.0 PPG for a season 4 different times in his career, again all with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Guard - Jrue Holiday
Career Stats (with Bucks): 18.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 2x All-Defensive Team Selection
Over the past 2 seasons that he has spent in Milwaukee, Jrue Holiday has been widely considered the best defensive point guard in the game. Yes, even more so than the 2022 Defensive Player Of The Year, Marcus Smart. His impact on Milwaukee has been so incredible that he makes this lineup after just 2 seasons with the team. I think every Bucks fan, teammate, and coach would tell you, though, that the Bucks do not become NBA champions without him.
Despite struggling in the first 2 rounds of the 2021 playoffs, Holiday bounced back in the Conference Finals and Finals. In the Eastern Conference Finals, he drew the matchup against a red-hot Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. There was no stopping Trae in last year’s playoffs, but Holiday made his job much tougher than it needed to be, and Milwaukee defeated Atlanta in 6 games. The NBA Finals were no easier. Jrue was et to face off against Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns. Holiday made Paul’s life a living hell in games 3-6 while putting up 16.7 PPG, 9.3 APG, and 6.2 RPG.
Guard - Ray Allen
Career Stats (with Bucks): 19.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 3x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection, Hall Of Fame
Is it me, or does Ray Allen’s time with the Bucks go almost completely forgotten? Ray Allen is most well-known for his sharpshooting abilities especially from beyond the arc. He was the NBA’s All-Time leader in 3-pointers made until earlier this season when Steph Curry passed him. Ray’s time in Milwaukee is defined by more than just his shooting, as he was an incredible slasher and scorer who displayed good defensive abilities as well. As this time in Milwaukee was coming to an end, Allen was considered one of the best shooting guards in basketball.
Ray showed his offensive talents straight away after being drafted 5th overall in 1996. In just his second season, Ray averaged 19.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 4.3 APG, giving a glimpse of the bright future ahead. By 2000, Allen was a consistent 20.0 PPG scorer and perennial All-Star. In 2001, Allen led the Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals after averaging 22.0 PPG in the regular season and 25.0 PPG in the playoffs. Although he never delivered the Bucks a title and was traded before he truly peaked, Ray Allen is still one of the greatest to ever play for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Guard - Michael Redd
Career Stats (with Bucks): 20.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 1x All-NBA Team Selection
Michael Redd is one of the purest scorers in Bucks history. Although he was mainly a perimeter player, his unlimited range and efficient scoring were exceptional. Initially, Redd was stuck behind Ray Allen on the depth chart, but he quickly worked his way into the starting rotation once it became evident just how good he was. When Ray Allen was eventually traded to Seattle, the team became Redd’s, and he responded.
The 2003-2004 season was the first in which the team was handed over to Redd. He averaged 21.7 PPG and 5.0 RPG. He was also selected as an All-Star and an All-NBA #rd Team selection for the only times in his career. This set off a string of 6 consecutive seasons of Redd averaging over 20.0 PPG. He peaked scoring-wise in 2007 when he averaged 26.7 PPG in 53 games, good for 5th in the league.
Forward - Khris Middleton
Career Stats (with Bucks): 17.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 3x All-Star
Since joining the Bucks before the 2014 season, Khris Middleton has morphed into one of the best second options in the league next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Without Middleton, the 2021 run to the NBA championship very may well not have happened. He has stepped up time and time again in crunch time, late in the 4th quarter. He has willed his team to victory in big moments, even when Giannis happens to struggle from the floor.
Middleton started to make that leap in the 2018 season. In the 4 out of 5 seasons since then, Middleton has averaged at least 20.0 PPG. On the 2021 title run, Middleton did a little bit of everything averaging 23.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 5.1 APG. For the Finals, he put up 24.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 5.3 APG. He was by far the second most important player on that team, and a closer like him deserves to come off the bench in this lineup.
Center - Bob Lanier
Career Stats (with Bucks): 13.5 PPG, 5.9 PPG, 2.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Achievements (with Bucks): 1x All-Star, Hall Of Fame
With size, much needed off of our bench, our backup center for Milwaukee is Bob Lanier. Lanier is, of course, more well-known for his days with the Pistons, where he averaged 22.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG in 10 seasons. Lanier still showed flashes of his younger self in Milwaukee, making an All-Star appearance in 1982.
Lanier was a physical enforcer on the court, something the Bucks desperately needed at the time they acquired him from Detroit. His regular-season numbers don’t catch one’s eyes, but it was his playoff presence that squeaks him into this lineup. Lanier regularly stepped his game up in the playoffs and saved his biggest individual performance for when his team needed him most. The series against the Sixers in 1982 is evidence of this when Lanier put up 27 points in a crucial Game 5 victory. Even though he never won an NBA championship, Bob Lanier was yet another main contributor to successful 1980s Bucks teams.
Coach - Don Nelson
Don Nelson coached the Milwaukee Bucks for 11 seasons from 1977 to 1988. His record was 540 wins to 344 losses, good for the highest win percentage of his career at 61.1%. Nelson doesn’t get enough credit for navigating the Bucks through a rough patch of time after both Kareem and Oscar Roberston departed. By the time his 4th season rolled around, he had turned the Bucks into a legitimate title contender once again through a flurry of controversial trades in typical Nelly fashion. Nelson is the franchise’s all-time leader in both regular-season games won and playoff games won.
Does Milwaukee Have The Most Well-Rounded All-Time Lineup?
Everywhere you look on this Milwaukee Bucks roster, there is a threat in one way or another. Offensively, there are elite scorers at every position. A front-court duo of Kareem and Giannis is virtually unstoppable in the paint. Whether it be by Kareem’s skyhook or Giannis's flat-out dominance, opponents will have a tough time stopping these two. Johnson and Moncrief provide an offensive spark but will be relied upon to do other things and scoring will not be their main focus. Allen and Redd provide more scoring punch off the bench while this entire lineup is being led by one of the greatest playmakers ever in Oscar Robertson. This team will put up a lot of points on whoever is in front of them.
Defensively, this team is also a juggernaut at every turn. On the perimeter, Moncrief and Johnson will be asked to defend any team's best wings, and as far as perimeter defenders go, these 2 are 2 of the best. Jrue Holiday is no slouch off the bench either and will be perfect to come in off the bench and step in for Moncrief when he needs a breather. On the interior, Milwaukee has pretty much built a brick wall in the form of Kareem, Giannis, and Lanier. Bigs will have fits getting around the sheer size of the frontcourt, while wings and guards will be forced to alter many shots due to Giannis and Kareem’s shot-blocking ability. All in all, this team may just be the best two-way lineup we have constructed so far, with a little bit of the intangibles to round it all out. They will be one of the tougher matchups for any of our all-time lineups.