Which current Milwaukee Bucks will eventually get their numbers retired?

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 26: (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 26: (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Any smart organization in professional sports (or in any field) should be looking ahead and considering what the future looks like. While the Milwaukee Bucks are contenders at the moment, they also must take a long view and worry about how they can contend for as long as possible.

While the Bucks have no one in their core that is relatively close to retirement, it’s fun to wonder which of the guys that have helped bring the organization their second NBA championship and are trying to win another will be honored and remembered inside Fiserv Forum forever once their careers eventually come to a close.

Which Milwaukee Bucks should get their numbers retired?

My criteria may be looser than some, but six candidates should at least be considered for having their number retired: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, and Bobby Portis.

Antetokounmpo and Middleton are locked in, it’s only a matter of time for when they have their jerseys retired. Honestly, you could preemptively retire their numbers while they’re still playing and no one would have much of a complaint.

They’ve been together for nine seasons and hold numerous franchise records already with more sure to be broken in the coming years assuming good health and no unforeseen drop-off. Antetokounmpo is arguably the best player in the team’s history and Middleton has been his co-star since the beginning. There’s no chance we don’t see #34 and #22 in the rafters once they’re done.

It’s also fun that those numbers could be retired for Ray Allen and Michael Redd as well.

Holiday is interesting because he’s only been here for two seasons so far but one ended in a championship. He’s expected to be around for a few more years after this so he’ll have time to build longevity within the organization and add to his resume.

He’s played 126 games and is already 16th among all Bucks guards in win shares. He’s easily the best point guard the franchise has had since Sam Cassell and I wouldn’t push back if you argued that Holiday is a better player. He’s had two of the best seasons in his career since joining the Bucks and if he continues at this level for the duration of his contract extension, he’ll end up being a lock as well.

For my money, Lopez is a lock as well. He’s been the backbone of Milwaukee’s defense that has routinely been at the top of the league since head coach Mike Budenholzer took over. He’s associated now with one of the best eras of Bucks basketball since he came in right as they became legitimate title contenders.

He’s played over 230 games with the franchise and it would have been much closer to 300 had he not missed almost the entire 2021-22 season with back surgery. Assuming the back issues are behind him, he should continue to climb up the win shares rankings among Bucks centers where he’s fifth at this point.

He may not have many years left with the franchise depending on how his extension situation shakes out this offseason. He’s 34-years-old now and may not have too many years of elite rim protection left. The Bucks need to begin searching for his replacement.

Regardless, Lopez has been a key cog on some of the best teams in Bucks history and has at least one championship to his name with Milwaukee. He’s not at the level of Middleton and Antetokounmpo, but #11 should be up in the Fiserv Forum rafters as well.

Now, if you told me after his second season with the team that Connaughton would even be loosely in consideration, I’d have been stunned. The same goes for Portis when he signed with the team.

It’s incredibly hard for role players to reach the level of having their number retired and it’s unlikely that these two will (especially if they leave in free agency) but I figure I’ll make the case anyway.

Portis hasn’t been here long enough but there isn’t a role player more beloved by their respective fanbase than the connection we’ve seen with Milwaukee and Portis. He played a vital role in the championship, even if he sat out the end of the Brooklyn Nets series. He’ll need more years (and championships) to his name with this organization but Portis will forever be remembered as a Buck regardless of if his number is up there or not.

Connaughton has more years than Portis and came in at the same time as Lopez. He shouldn’t get the same credit that Lopez will get for helping turn the team into a contender but the development we’ve seen from him to turn into their most valuable bench player the last two seasons is remarkable.

Connaughton would need a few more clutch 3s during deep playoff runs to add to his resume to reach the number retirement level but like Portis, he’ll always be remembered by the fanbase regardless. If there was a role player that got his number retired, Connaughton has the best chance at it.

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The Milwaukee Bucks have retired nine numbers in their history and there will be a few more added in once it’s all said and done for this group.