NBA Finals 2021

NBA Finals 2021: Milwaukee Bucks' grind to NBA title exemplified by 10 G League alums on championship roster

History has been made - the Milwaukee Bucks are the 2021 NBA champions.

Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Bucks have a roster comprised of players who have had to grind to prominence in the league, with center Brook Lopez standing as the lone lottery pick on the team.

A closer look at the makeup of the roster emphasizes the above point even further, as Milwaukee has 10 alumni of the NBA G League on its roster, including starters Khris Middleton and P.J. Tucker, as well as sixth man Bobby Portis, among several others.

Middleton, who was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 39th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, had a stint with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants during his rookie season, averaging 11.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Ultimately, Middleton would only appear in 27 games with Detroit as a rookie before an offseason trade sent him to Milwaukee.

With the 2021 NBA title, Middleton becomes the third former Mad Ant to become an NBA champion.

Like Middleton, Tucker was also a second-round pick, going 35th overall to the Toronto Raptors in 2006. As a rookie, Tucker was sent to the Colorado 14ers (now Texas Legends) on two separate occasions, posting averages of 10.7 points and 3.4 rebounds over 19 games (12 starts).

Tucker's resilience is of another level. His time came when the league was still known as the D League, and the process was not nearly as linear as it has become in modern times, as 28 teams now have their own affiliate. He would ultimately be waived by the Raptors in March of 2007, beginning a five-year stint overseas before returning to the NBA in 2012 to become a champion nearly a decade later.

The self-proclaimed underdog, Portis was selected with the No. 22 overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2015 NBA Draft. However short-lived, Portis did spend one game with the Windy City Bulls in 2017, scoring 32 points to go along with nine boards, three assists and three blocks.

After stints in Washington and New York, Portis has found a home in Milwaukee, becoming a fan favourite and champion along the way.

The 2021 Bucks are the latest example of championship DNA intertwining with G League DNA, as the alumni of that league continue to make their presence felt at the NBA level, further promoting the growth and true development of the league.

None of the above players become who they are without their time spent developing in the G League.

Now they're champions.

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