Milwaukee Bucks: Debunking narratives surrounding the 2021 title run

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 22 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 22 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: P.J. Tucker
Jul 8, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Did P.J. Tucker actually contribute to the Milwaukee Bucks’ title run?

One narrative that surfaced in the wake of the loss of P.J. Tucker to the Heat from defenders of team ownership pointed to Tucker’s supposedly weak role in the Bucks’ playoff run to justify letting him go to an Eastern Conference rival.

Certainly, there should be no reason to miss a player that averaged 4.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game on a measly 32.2 percent shooting from deep for a championship-winning playoff run. With those numbers, it would be logical for team management to refuse to bend over backward in favor of a more youthful upgrade in Semi Ojeleye.

But basketball is a two-way game where defense, one of the harder to measure facets of the game in the box score, is what wins you championships. And that is exactly what Tucker brought to the team. More than any other player on the roster, Tucker unlocked the Bucks’ ability to switch. Though undersized at 6-foot-5, the hyper defensive power forward also packs a lot of mass at 245 pounds, allowing him to chase scorers around the perimeter while also holding his own in the paint.

According to, he held an All-World scorer in Kevin Durant to 35-of-77 shooting (45.5 percent) over a seven-game series, which speaks for itself. As if that wasn’t enough, his matchup data also shows he also held Bogdan Bogdanovic to 7-of-21 (33.3percent), Chris Paul to 3-of-14 (21.4 percent), and Jimmy Butler to 2-of-12 (16.7percent) when he was the closest defender.

Other fans have gone so far as to say that Tucker was lucky to play a role and only did so in the wake of DiVincenzo’s injury. This could not be farther from the truth. DiVincenzo, a 6-foot-4 combo guard who, as mentioned, is an elite defender in his own right, wouldn’t have taken Tucker’s minutes against taller and girthier forwards like, say, Durant and Butler.

Especially off the court, Tucker’s leadership and veteran presence in the team’s locker room is very well documented even with DiVincenzo still in the fold for the team. That kind of impact on a team’s culture is priceless, especially when you consider that it was their team defense that propelled them to a title in the end.

Even before the trophy was hoisted in Milwaukee, media narratives were rather unkind to the Giannis-led Bucks. Mainstream media framed the world title as something of a destiny that was solely Paul’s to claim.

Next. Milwaukee Bucks: Ranking every player on the 2021-22 roster. dark

But history was written by the champions in the 2021 NBA Finals. That much was made clear when the Bucks held up trophies that read exactly that title, bearing no asterisks and conditions. History should be (and should have been) kind to the Bucks, for they succeeded when they set out to write it.