Milwaukee Bucks: 3 players who defied expectations in 2020-21 season

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 22 (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 22 (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MAY 24 (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Bobby Portis defied expectations with the Milwaukee Bucks this season

With the Bucks waiving Ersan Ilyasova and losing Marvin Williams to retirement last offseason, signing Bobby Portis to bolster their frontcourt seemed like a solid move.

Inking a two-year deal worth $7.5 million, with the second year being a player option, it was a low-risk move for the Bucks. Of course, no one at that time could have predicted just how crucial Portis would become for this team throughout the season by playing a key role in the second unit. Backed by some electric scoring, energetic rebounding, and overall vibrant presence, the big man quickly developed into a fan-favorite among the franchise.

Portis would average 11.4 points per game this season, shooting the ball with career-best efficiency by knocking down 52.3 percent of his field goals and 47.1 percent of his triples. The latter number marked the third most efficient percentage across the league as Portis showed his improved jumper consistently throughout the year. While his efforts during the regular season were applaudable, Portis cemented his fan-favorite status forever in the playoffs as he helped the Bucks mightily en route to the title.

It was not always ideal for Portis, specifically noting that he missed a massive portion of the team’s second round series against the Brooklyn Nets due to the matchup. Yet, as they stood on the court following a gutsy Game 7 win, Giannis Antetokounmpo told Portis to stay ready because the team would be needing him, and they certainly did. Portis would not only regain his spot in the rotation during the Eastern Conference Finals, but he would start two games in place of Giannis, who was sidelined with a hyperextended knee, and played some phenomenal basketball on the big stage.

The big man set out to win when he signed with the Bucks, and he reached that feat as he hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy at season’s end. What seemed like a solid signing at first soon turned into one of the better free agent signings for this team in recent memory, as they could undeniably have not won the title without him.