Giannis Antetokounmpo finished off the 2021 NBA season in style.
The Greek Freak went for 50 points to help the Milwaukee Bucks close out the Phoenix Suns 4-2 in the NBA Finals to lift the franchise’s first title since 1970-71. Antetokounmpo averaged 35.2 points per game in the series after initially looking like he’d miss some time with a hyperextended knee injury. He ended up winning Finals MVP.
The Bucks had other stars to help Antetokounmpo out, namely Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Middleton had a 40-point effort in Game 4 for a pivotal victory to tie the series and continued to make tough shots and close out games for the Bucks. Holiday, the big acquisition of the offseason, was instrumental on the defensive end and provided strong playmaking even when his shots weren’t going down. The Bucks found great contributions from role players Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis to eventually win the title.
Milwaukee will return Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Holiday and Lopez next season. Connaughton, Donte DiVincenzo and Bryn Forbes will be part of the rotation as well. The Bucks will have to make decisions on P.J. Tucker and Bobby Portis will likely test the market, but could want to return to the team. Head coach Mike Budenholzer is also likely to return on a long-term deal. The Bucks enter the offseason with the third-best odds to win next season’s title at +800 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Greek Freak is +800 to win MVP next season, tied for fourth with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry.
This is all paying off for Antetokounmpo, who signed an extension with the Bucks despite rumors of him leaving as the Bucks fell short in the playoffs. Milwaukee’s ownership made a commitment to spend for a championship contender and brought on Holiday to do so. The luxury tax doesn’t matter anymore. The draft picks don’t matter anymore. Milwaukee is a city of champions once again.
The real question now is what comes next for the Greek Freak. He’s got two stars alongside him in Middleton and Holiday for at least the next three seasons barring trades. He’s a two-time league MVP, a Defensive Player of the Year, a champion and a Finals MVP. At 26, he’s entering his prime now.
Is Antetokounmpo the best player in the league now and is this going to be a dynasty in Milwaukee? There will be stiff competition from the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. The Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat will be in the mix as well. But the league’s best player now resides in Milwaukee and he no longer has the pressure of delivering a ring. We’re entering the Giannis Antetokounmpo era of the NBA.