It took 50 years for the Bucks to win their second championship in franchise history. The crazy thing is that it could take just one year to win another. With the returning core of the Bucks all back, as well as a bench that could be seen as better than last year, the Bucks have the potential to go back-to-back.
The league hasn’t seen a team repeat as champions since the 2017 and 2018 Golden State Warriors. Granted, the NBA has a plethora of talent across the board. Not to mention, it did take seven games to beat the Nets and the Bucks were a Kevin Durant toe away from going home with a different narrative. As we transition to the next year, this lineup features one of the best all-around squads.
Point Guard - Jrue Holiday
The Bucks asked themselves what is missing? After finishing at the top of the East in 2020, the team took a look in the mirror and realized that it was Jrue Holiday. At the time, it wasn’t a splashy move compared to others. Holiday owned just one All-Star appearance in his career and was coming off years of missing the playoffs in New Orleans.
Holiday was immediately accepted in Milwaukee. He was a premier defensive guard in the league, making All-Defensive First Team last year. He also averaged 17.7 points and shot 50.3% from the field. In the playoffs, Holiday had his moments, but he played an all-around great game. This year, Holiday could very well make it back to the All-Star Game.
Shooting Guard - Donte DiVincenzo
The Bucks lost DiVincenzo in the playoffs and he did not play in the NBA Finals. In 66 regular-season games, he averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and shot 37.9% from three-point range. When DiVencenzo was drafted out of Villanova, many believed he was a steal. He has consistently improved his outside shooting each year and should develop this season.
What makes DiVencenzo even more valuable at the two-guard spot is his rebounding. He is one of the better rebounding shooting guards in the league. If he can get that three-point shooting to 40%, the Bucks would be in business.
Small Forward - Khris Middleton
Middleton was snubbed from the All-Star Game this year, but in the end, he came out on top with an NBA championship and Olympic gold medal. People don’t appreciate Middleton enough because he played in a market such as Milwaukee. Now that he is a champion, Middleton will get a lot more attention.
Middleton has averaged at least 20.0 points per game in three of the last four seasons. Last year, he averaged a line of 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.1 steals. When Middleton clicked on offense, the entire offense clicked. When he struggled, the Bucks struggled. While Giannis is the best player, Middleton is the glue man that holds everything together.
Power Forward - Giannis Antetokounmpo
In the Finals, Giannis became the seventh player ever to score 50 points in a game. Not too bad for a man that has only one more, right James Harden? Either way, Giannis is a champion, unlike the three-time scoring champion. So far, we are seeing Giannis make a climb in NBA lore. If he can win another title, does that make him a top-25 player all time?
The fact that Giannis won his title by staying in Milwaukee has earned the respect of everyone in the basketball community. Remember, this is a two-time MVP, former Defensive Player of the Year, and is still not even 30 years old. Have we seen his best? That’s a terrifying question to ask if you are on the opposing side.
Center - Brook Lopez
Lopez will turn 34 years old next season. How much more can he contribute at a high level? He is long gone from his days of averaging 20 points per game. He doesn’t shoot particularly well from outside, while his rebounding and defense have taken a hit. Lopez shot 50.3% last season from the field, which was his best percentage since 2015, but there are holes to his game.
For now, Lopez remains the starter, but he could be pulled for another player like Bobby Portis down the stretch of games. With that said, Lopez has developed an outside shot, If he can shoot 35% from three, he will fill his role on the floor.
George Hill, Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, Elijah Bryant, Semi Ojeleye, Rodney Hood, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Jordan Nwora, Justin Jackson, Rodions Kurucs, Bobby Portis
The offseason acquisition of George Hill was huge. Hill is a veteran winner, who can fill the backup guard position better than Jeff Teague, assuming the team doesn’t re-sign him. Hill has played in the Conference Finals with the Pacers and Cavaliers. He nearly did it last year with the 76ers. Rodney Hood was another low-cost, high reward addition. Hood has the potential to be a better contributor than Bryn Forbes.
Connaughton played starter's minutes when DiVencenzo was out for the rest of the playoffs. Bobby Portis is a necessary high-energy player that will play huge minutes. He took less money to remain in Milwaukee. As for the last big name on the bench, Grayson Allen coming to the team via trade could be a key defensive addition. Allen is a solid defender but also shoots 38.1% from three for his career. Altogether, this is a well-put-together bench.
Milwaukee Should Make Another Conference Finals
In reality, the world expects to see Milwaukee and Brooklyn in the Conference Finals. It would be a sweet rematch of the two teams from last year. It would probably go seven games. While the Nets are favored to win the title this year, there’s a valid argument that both teams could fight tooth and nail with each other.
The Bucks have the talent to make another Conference Finals. The 76er and Nets will have tough teams. The Knicks, Bulls, Celtics, and Hawks are going to be competitive. Still, the Bucks are the defending champions and they didn’t lose too much from their team. You have to give them the respect they deserve.