Bucking the Trend?

Giannis Antetokounmpo could've gone anywhere. He could've made the Golden State Warriors a terrifying threat again, giving them more size and athleticism. He could've been persuaded by Pat Riley to take his talents to South Beach, making them the beasts of the East. Instead, he chose to stay in Milwaukee, banking on the hopes of bringing a title to the Cream City. He was rewarded with earning the Larry O'Brien trophy this season, establishing himself as a premier NBA star in the process.


Greek Freak has been chided by countless critics and pundits for his disappearance during critical moments of the playoffs. Often, he would shoot below 50% from the field, faltering under the pressure. But that wasn't the case this postseason, when he averaged 30.2 PPG, 12.8 RPG, and averaged over a block a game. In fact, his memorable block in Game 5 of the NBA Finals sealed the deal for the Bucks, bringing them their first title since 1971.


In an age where NBA superteams are taking over the landscape, it's refreshing to see a superstar like Antetokounmpo get a championship with a great supporting cast. That was the case in the Eastern Conference Finals, where Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez carried Milwaukee past the Atlanta Hawks. That was also true with their opponent, the Phoenix Suns, where Chris Paul opted to mentor Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton rather than go to Los Angeles or Brooklyn. Overall, this was the year of true team play.


Does this mean that superstars like Greek Freak will stay in smaller markets like Cream City? It might not. After all, teams like the Lakers and Warriors are always finding ways to bring in world-class players. But the Bucks proved that you can win the NBA Championship with the right supporting cast, a la the San Antonio Spurs of the 2000's. With sound fundamentals, excellent coaching, and a big power forward, the sky's the limit for these smaller teams. That's a sight that most people love to see.