When Saturday, July 17 is in the books, the world will know who broke the stalemate between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns, who are now locked in a 2-2 series tie in what is shaping up to be an NBA Championship for the ages.
Find Out: How Rich Are LeBron James, Steph Curry and Other NBA Stars?
Did You Know: The Richest NBA Team Owners
Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is known for signing the biggest contract extension in NBA history, but he’s far from the only highly paid star on the court.
Last updated: July 16, 2021
- Yearly contract value: $4,407,671
Mikal Bridges spent most of the playoffs as an understated hero of the Suns’ stellar postseason run. In the Finals, however, the small forward has been anything but understated. His breakout was in Game 2, when he put up 27 points and seven rebounds to help secure a 118-108 victory.
- Yearly contract value: $7,969,537
P.J. Tucker started his career bouncing around European leagues — after being drafted in the second round in 2006, he spent just one year in the NBA before going overseas. Now, the man who returned to America and the NBA as an undersized journeyman power forward is a big part of the reason that the Suns are playing for the Championship. It was Tucker, after all, who battled Kevin Durant for every inch of the court during the Suns’ epic seven-game East Finals series against Brooklyn.
- Yearly contract value: $9,720,900
Like P.J. Tucker, Jae Crowder has spent his entire career as a wanderer. He’s played for seven teams in nine NBA seasons — even in college, he bounced between three schools. It’s exactly that kind of experience that’s made him such a force in the playoffs, according to The Ringer. The Suns forward has been to the playoffs eight years straight with five different teams and he’s the only player on either the Suns or the Bucks who has been to the Finals before.
Fun Facts: The Richest Athletes in the World
- Yearly contract value: $10,094,808
Although he was on the receiving end of an epic and potentially game-saving block by Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 4, Deandre Ayton treated Suns fans to magical performances throughout the playoffs. It became clear just how critical his presence on the court has become once the Suns didn’t have him anymore. Thanks to foul trouble, he spent about half of Game 3 on the sidelines. The Bucks smoked the Suns by 20 points.
Read More: Injuries Cost These 13 Athletes a Fortune
- Yearly contract value: $13,000,000
Brook Lopez was the favorite target of a pick-and-roll barrage launched by the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 — and the Bucks came up 13 points short in the series opener. The seven-foot center remained a question after Milwaukee dropped another game to go down by two. Several publications, including Fansided, have called for Lopez to have a bigger role.
- Yearly contract value: $25,200,000
Jrue Holiday’s smothering defense is one of the main reasons that the Bucks were able to put a lid on Chris Paul, whose explosive Game 1 performance appeared to be a harbinger of doom for Milwaukee. Since Holiday replaced P.J. Tucker as Paul’s primary defender, the Bucks have bounced back and Paul has become prolific in the turnover department.
- Yearly contract value: $31,650,600
Devin Booker was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The star got away clean with an obvious foul that the refs simply missed in Game 4. With five fouls under his belt, that one would have gotten him tossed out of the game. Had the officials seen what the world saw, It’s very likely that the Suns would be starting down a 3-1 series right now.
- Yearly contract value: $35,500,000
Khris Middleton remains the Bucks’ go-to closer, and Game 4 was proof of the reason why Middleton has lifted Milwaukee to become one of the league’s most elite teams. Desperate not to fall back to two down, Middleton came up huge for the Bucks when they needed him most — as he so frequently does. He put up 40 points on the night, including 14 in the fourth quarter and 10 in the last 2:07 of the game.
- Yearly contract value: $39,932,648
Star Suns point guard Chris Paul came out of the gate roaring in Game 1 of the Finals, putting up a game-high 32 points plus nine assists. The Bucks quickly found a way to slow him down in the three ensuing contests, however. In Game 2, the 11-time All-Star still scored 23 points for another victory, but that production was muddled by six turnovers. He turned the ball over four times in Game 3 and five times in Game 4.
- Yearly contract value: $45,640,084
In 2020, Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a five-year, $228 million supermax contract extension that stands as the richest deal in NBA history. Along with Middleton, the man they call Giannis has molded Milwaukee into an elite NBA squad. The two-time MVP’s contributions can’t be boiled down to a single play, but his epic denial of what would have been Deandre Ayton’s game-tying dunk in the trailing minutes of Game 4 was more than just the greatest blocked shot in playoff history and perhaps ever. It was the embodiment of Antetokounmpo’s presence on the Bucks — mental toughness, reliability in crucial moments, and electrifying excitement on the court.
More From GOBankingRates