The Milwaukee Bucks were founded in 1968 as an expansion team in the NBA. Since then, the Bucks have only one title to their name. However, they have made it to their conference title series nine times in history. So, how does each conference finals team rank against each other? This is the official ranking of every Bucks Conference Finals team. By the way, quick disclosure, all these teams are great, just some are greater than others. If a team is ranked lower, that doesn’t mean I think they were a bad team, just not as good as the other Bucks teams. Sorry about that, just had to say it, read on…
The Bucks finished this year with a 51-31 record. A solid record that was good enough to be sixth in the league. This Milwaukee team was 17th in points per game while giving up a 4th best, 102.2 points per game. They were a very efficient team, the Bucks finished 10th in offensive rating and 6th in defensive rating. The 82-83 Bucks were led by a young Sidney Moncrief and a prime Marques Johnson. Moncrief led the team in scoring with 22.5 points per game but Johnson was not far behind with 21.4. Junior Bridgeman also chipped in with 14.4 points per game, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. Those three were Milwaukee’s top guys but Bob Lanier and Brian Winters also chipped in just over 10 points per game. Milwaukee legend Paul Pressey was on this team but did not contribute much. It was his rookie season. This Bucks team lost in the playoffs to the future champions, the Moses Malone led 76ers.
One of the current generation’s favorite Bucks team, the 2000-01 Bucks finished their season with a 52-30 record. They were a gifted offensive team whose crutch was their defense. They finished with the best offensive rating in the NBA but the 20th best defensive rating. The original big three, Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, and Sam Cassell, were a big three before it was cool. Together they averaged 62.2 points per game, 15.9 rebounds, and 15.5 assists. Ray Allen earned his second All-Star selection while Glenn Robinson put up his best season of his career. This team also had Tim Thomas who was in the beginning of his prime and Lindsey Hunter who was in the last season of his prime. Milwaukee fan favorite, Michael Redd, was a rookie during this season but contributed very little. Like the 1982-83 Bucks, this team lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference finals.
A year after they were an expansion team, the Milwaukee Bucks proved to be a force in the league. They were led by Rookie of the Year, Lew Alcindor (More commonly known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Flynn Robinson. Alcindor led the team with 28.8 points per game and 14.5 rebounds. Robinson put together his only All-Star season and averaged 21.8 points per game and 5.5 assists. Besides those two players, Milwaukee also had two other solid pieces. They had a rookie Bob Dandridge who averaged 13.2 points per game and 7.7 rebounds but was still 4 years away from his prime. Jon McGlocklin was the other solid piece who averaged 17.6 points per game in his second best scoring season of his career. The 69-70 Bucks role players were led by Greg Smith and Zaiz Abdul-Aziz who averaged 17.2 points per game and 16.2 rebounds per game together. As a duo, they were basically Andre Drummond. This team lost their conference finals series to the New York Knicks who were led by Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, and Dave DeBusschere. This Milwaukee team was still a couple pieces away from being unstoppable.
The 1983-84 Bucks team was a defensive juggernaut who sometimes struggled offensively. However, their defense was good enough to cover up their offensive shortcomings. They finished the season with a 50-32 record even though they were 18th in the league in offensive points per game but like I said, the defense was dominating. They were first in the entire NBA in opponents points per game and 2nd in defensive rating. They were led by one of the best two-way players of that season in Sidney Moncrief who averaged 20.9 points per game, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. Marques Johnson played his last season in Milwaukee during 83-84 and averaged almost 21 points per game. Besides Moncrief and Johnson, the Bucks were loaded with very good role players but zero other stars to put them over the hump. They had Junior Bridgeman who was a very good piece and also Mike Dunleavy who had the highest scoring season of his career. Paul Pressey was on the team but still a year away from his prime and Milwaukee also had Bob Lanier and Tiny Archibald who were both in the last season of their careers. The Bucks lost to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics to end their season.
It should come as no surprise that a Milwaukee tam led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dominated the league. The 73-74 Bucks team finished with a 59-23 record while being 1st in offensive team rating. They scored 107.1 points per game while giving up 99 points per game which was good for 8th and 3rd in the league respectively. Kareem averaged 27.0 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. Bob Dandridge was the Robin to Jabbar’s Batman and averaged 18.9 points per game and 6.7 rebounds. Despite the solid numbers, Dandridge was not selected to an All-Star game. Lucius Allen was a 17 point per game player during this season before he went to the Lakers the next. These Bucks had Oscar Robertson but it was in the final year of his career. He was old and out of his prime. He only averaged 12.7 points per game which was by far the lowest of his career. Finally, Curtis Perry was on the team but 73-74 was right before the best 3 years of his career. Thanks to Kareem and Dandridge, this team made it to the NBA Finals but ended up losing in 7 games to John Havlicek’s Celtics.
What a surprise, another great early 70’s Bucks team. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 34.8 points per game (the highest mark of his career) and grabbed 16.6 rebounds to lead Milwaukee to a 63-19 record. Thanks to the big three of Abdul-Jabbar, Dandridge, and Robertson, the Bucks scored 114.6 points per game (4th in the NBA) and gave up 103.5 points per game (2nd in the NBA). The team was 2nd in offensive rating and 1st in defensive rating. Along with the big three, Lucius Allen and Jon McGlocklin added some double-digit scoring to help round out their team.
Here we go. The top 3. The 85-86 team had a 57-25 record and was top 5 in the league in offensive points per game, offensive rating, defensive points per game, and defensive rating. This was Sidney Moncrief’s final season as an All-Star and he did not disappoint. He scored 20.2 points, grabbed 4.6 rebounds, and dished out 4.9 assists per game. Terry Cummings was a great second fiddle and in the middle of his prime. He scored 19.8 points to go along with 8.5 rebounds per game. The point guard on this Bucks team was Paul Pressey who had one of the top seasons of his career. The backup point guard was a player many teams would have liked as their starter in Craig Hodges. Hodges was one of the best 3-point shooters in the league and was an excellent role player to go off of Moncrief, Cummings, and Pressey. Rickey Pierce, known bucket-getter, had his breakout season in 1985-86 by averaging 13.9 points per game. Finally, two more pieces to the puzzle, Alton Lister and Randy Breuer, averaged about 18 points and 13 rebounds per game between the two. The only reason this team did not win the title was because they ran into the juggernaut that was Larry Bird and Kevin McHale’s Celtics.
Maybe this is some recency bias maybe it is not. This year’s Milwaukee Bucks team is good. Like, the can stand up to the Golden State Warriors good. They finished the regular season with 60 wins and had the number one offensive and defensive in the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the season’s MVP, averaged 27.7 points per game, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. He had one of the best seasons for a Milwaukee Buck since Kareem’s 1971-72 campaign. Khris Middleton earned his first All-Star appearance of his career as he averaged 18.3 points per game and grabbed 6.0 rebounds. Eric Bledsoe ran point for this team and had incredibly respectable averages. He was around 16 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists per game. Malcolm Brogdon, the team’s shooting guard, became the 8th player in NBA history to join the 50/40/90 club. Even center, Brook Lopez, added 12.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. The journey is not yet for the 2018-19 Bucks and who knows, by the end of the year, they could move into the spot.
The best Milwaukee Bucks Conference Finals team of all-time is the 1970-71 team. They had a 66-16 record while scoring 118.4 points per game (1st in the league) and giving up 106.2 points per game (3rd in the league). This team was also first in offensive rating and defensive rating. Nobody could stop them or get by them. Kareem led the team with 31.0 points, 16.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. The Bucks were able to acquire Oscar Robertson right before the end of his prime and scored 19.4 points per game. He also hauled down 5.7 rebounds and put out 8.2 assists per game. Bob Dandridge had his breakout season in 70-71 where he scored 18.4 points per game and had 8.0 rebounds. Teams had to focus all of their energy on those three guys which left players like Jon McGlocklin and Greg Smith to have the best seasons of their careers. Even their bench had former All-Star, Bob Boozer, and a player right before his prime in Lucius Allen. The team swept the Wes Unseld and Gus Johnson led Baltimore Bullets to Milwaukee’s only championship in franchise history.