In the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks were presented the opportunity to trade up to the number two overall pick and secure Chris Paul. However, the Bucks instead used the pick to select Brandon Jennings. Fast forward to the 2018 NBA Draft, and the Bucks feel they have the opportunity to trade up to the number one overall pick and select Deandre Ayton.
In the NBA, it’s all about the big names. Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James. These players are usually being talked about as the top prospects the league has to offer, and they are basically the only ones that deserve that title. However, in this blog post, I will be focusing on a lesser known player, one that was traded for a pair of lottery picks last year. This player is the Milwaukee Bucks.Chris Paul moved one step closer to his first NBA championship Tuesday night by beating the Phoenix Suns 118-105 against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Even with Giannis Antitokounmpo back on the court – the two-time NBA MVP missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals with an injury to his left knee – the Bucks couldn’t stop Paul, who made 12 of 19 shots from the field, including four of seven three-pointers and all four free throws, and scored 32 points and dished out nine assists in his finals debut.
In the first game, it was hard not to think about the night CP3 was drafted 16 years ago, the night the Bucs were selected as the first player. Do you remember what happened next?
In the 2005 NBA lottery, the Bucks, who finished the season 30-52, had just a 6.3 percent chance of coming out on top. Yes, even with a record of 30-52, Milwaukee’s chances were so slim because there were so many bad teams in the league at the time. It’s funny that the Bucks’ opponent in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Atlanta Hawks, had the best chance of getting the first pick this year (25%), as they finished the 2004-05 league with the worst record (13-69).
But I’m distracted.
One of the 63 ping-pong balls the Bucks had did the trick, and Milwaukee got the first pick for the fourth time in franchise history, which of course was not used for Paul, who many considered the best player in the 2005 draft when he came out of Wake Forest. Instead, they chose Andrew Bogut, who became the first Australian to be selected at #1.
It’s understandable why the Bucs made this choice, as Bogut, who played at the University of Utah, won most national college player of the year awards. The only major award he didn’t win was the Sporting News Award, which went to Illinois linebacker Dee Brown, who was picked 46th by the Utah Jazz in 2006.
Speaking of jazz: They also waived Paul when they made the third pick in the 2005 NBA Draft to select Deron Williams, Brown’s teammate with the Fighting Illini. Paul, who was named First Team All-American in his second and final season with the Demon Deacons, went to the New Orleans Hornets at No. 1. 4.
Bogut had a good rookie season with the Bucks and was named to the first team, averaging 9.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. But Paul proved exactly why Milwaukee should have him: He was unanimously voted Rookie of the Year (Bogut was third) and averaged 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals.
Since then, Paul has been selected to 11 NBA All-Star games, 10 NBA All-Star teams and 9 All-Defensive teams. He was a four-time leader in assists and a six-time leader in steals. Before Bogut left the NBA after the 2018-19 season to return home and play in the NBL, he never made it to the All-Star Game, but was a 2010 NBA Third Team All-Star and 2015 Second Team All-Defense. He also led the league in blocks in 2011.
Bogut has what Paul doesn’t: the NBA championship ring he won in 2015 with the Golden State Warriors.
We are not suggesting that if the Bucs had drafted Paul, he would still be in the group 16 years later. These NBA Finals are just a reminder of what could have been, and how the landscape of the league could have looked different if a choice had gone the other way. Had the Bucs drafted Paul in 2005, they could have qualified for Antetokounmpo much earlier, which could have put them out of business eight years later. Who knows, right? It’s just something fun to think about.
Chris Paul at Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks | Chris Coduto/Getty Images
Fourteen years after the Bucks swore off Paul, rumors have surfaced that CP3 is seeking a move to Milwaukee for the 2019-20 season. In July 2019, shortly after his second and final year with the Houston Rockets, Paul was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who then explored options to send him elsewhere. CP3 was reportedly interested in the Bucks, who finished the season with 60 wins and a final spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, which they lost to the Toronto Raptors.
Of course, that would make the Bucks the favorites to win the NBA championship, as the trio of Giannis, Chris Middleton and Chris Paul would be nothing short of incredible. But this action was apparently never taken, and Paul remained in the JCC.
In the short offseason leading up to the 2020-21 season, rumors have resurfaced that Paul could be traded to Milwaukee, though there have been no serious talks between the Thunder and Bucks that we know of. And as we all know by now, CP3’s favorite destination was Phoenix, a wish granted, and the Suns are now three wins away from their first-ever NBA championship.
Although he’s never talked about it, at least as far as we know, Paul may be even more motivated to win those NBA Finals against the team that beat him all those years ago. After all, he is friends with Michael Jordan, and we all know how MJ feels about people who disrespect him. Maybe these NBA Finals are more personal than we think.
Statistics provided by Basketball Reference
COMPARED TO: Ranking of the three players pulled for Chris Paul in the 2005 NBA Draft
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