The Milwaukee Bucks have clinched the 2021 NBA championship after defeating the Phoenix Suns 4-2 in the NBA Finals. The Bucks won four straight games in the series to clinch the title.
It’s no surprise Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is Finals MVP, averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in the series. Antetokounmpo looked questionable to play at the start of the series due to a hyperextended knee he suffered against the Atlanta Hawks, but the Greek Freak did one better. He played the full series and showed little to no effects of the injury for much of it, outside of some tense moments in Game 1.
Antetokounmpo was -400 as the favorite among Milwaukee’s players to win the honor. He was +380 to win, according to DraftKings Sportsbook at the start of the Finals, even with his health in question. Khris Middleton was second at +550.
Antetokounmpo was the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA draft out of Greece, where he played at Filathlitikos. He signed a contract with CAI Zaragoza, but had offers from bigger clubs in Europe including Barcelona and Efes. While Antetokounmpo struggled early in his NBA career, his physical tools and potential were clear.
After three seasons, he became an All-Star. He went on to win back-to-back MVP awards while also capturing the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honor in 2020. The only thing missing was a championship; now that accolade has also been achieved along with Finals MVP honors.
Antetokounmpo would not have reached this point without Middleton, who has become a star in his own right. Included in Milwaukee’s trade for Brandon Knight, Middleton has emerged as a two-way force for the Bucks. He averaged in the Finals.
Jrue Holiday was Milwaukee’s big addition in the offseason after Antetokounmpo pushed for the club to show commitment to winning a title as he signed a maximum extension. The Bucks gave up a lot of draft capital and cap space to add Holiday, but he’s been a key piece of the title team.
All this was possible because of Antetokounmpo’s rise from a raw 15th pick to a superstar on both ends of the floor. The Bucks have done well to develop him and add the right talent around him. He’s now a champion and Finals MVP at age 26 with the prime of his career ahead. The NBA is entering a new era and it appears the Greek Freak is at the heart of it.