The Milwaukee Bucks made history by winning their first NBA championship since 1971 following a commanding Game 6 display that saw Giannis Antetokounmpo produce a historic stat line of 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. After the match, Giannis claimed that he had the option of joining a super-team to earn his first ring, but chose the harder way.
Since being named Finals MVP, the five-time All-Star has inadvertently emerged as one of the biggest winners to emerge from the 2021 NBA Playoffs. In this article, we look at the three biggest winners and losers from this year’s Playoffs:
Biggest winners from 2021 NBA Playoffs
#3 Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young emerged as a bonafide superstar this season and carried the Atlanta Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in 50 years. After a disappointing 2019-20 season in which they finished 14th, the Hawks now have one of the most exciting young cores in the NBA and will be looking to go even further in the upcoming season.
Apart from Trae Young’s breathtaking performances all season, the team saw the likes of Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, DeAndre Hunter and All-Star John Collins produce impressive seasons, while the addition of Clint Capela also turned out to be one of the shrewdest moves of the past season. While there were plenty of doubters who thought that Trae Young would not continue his regular season into the Playoffs, the 23-year old silenced doubters and produced some memorable performances through the three series.
#2 Phoenix Suns
Eventually falling short to the Milwaukee Bucks despite winning the first two games of the Finals, the Phoenix Suns also enjoyed a successful season with the addition of Chris Paul proving to be a masterstroke. The Suns have a strong roster that will return next season as one of the contenders again.
Mikal Bridges had a breakthrough season and averaged in double digits for the first time in his career, while Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton benefitted from the experience of Chris Paul, who lost in his first-ever NBA Finals appearance. Regardless, the Suns exploited crucial injuries that the LA Lakers, Denver Nuggets and the Clippers suffered in their series against them and will return next season as one of the contenders again.
#1 Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks saw their two long-term stars in Giannis and Khris Middleton deliver the goods. The Bucks and head coach Mike Budenholzer have come under scrutiny for past anti-climactic runs, especially during the Playoffs.
However, the addition of Jrue Holiday paid off as he produced some of the most memorable defensive performances of recent years. Meanwhile Giannis made history by becoming the first player in NBA history to record 50 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in the Finals. After two successive MVP seasons, Giannis was finally able to get his hands on the big prize, with the Bucks expected to return next season even stronger.