While the Bucks didn’t raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2022 for a second consecutive season, four players and one in the front office with Milwaukee connections did as members of the Golden State Warriors.
Kevon Looney won his third NBA championship, while Jordan Poole, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Gary Payton II won their first after the Warriors dispatched the Boston Celtics in six games Thursday night at TD Garden.
Juan Toscano-Anderson had Mexican flag during trophy presentation
While a championship is noteworthy enough, Toscano-Anderson, who played for Marquette from 2011-15, made some history in the process.
Toscano-Anderson, an Oakland native, became the first player of Mexican descent to win an NBA championship.
During the trophy presentation, Toscano-Anderson had the Mexican flag draped over his shoulders as teammates Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins were being interviewed.
The 29-year-old small forward played very sparingly in the NBA Finals — he averaged just 2.0 minutes and did not score. He averaged 4.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 13.6 minutes during the regular season. He played in 73 games and started six. But it’s been quite the journey for Toscano-Anderson to get to the NBA’s biggest stage.
This is Toscano-Anderson’s third season with the Warriors after going undrafted and then playing professionally in Mexico following his Marquette career.
Jordan Poole became a star for Warriors during season and 2022 playoffs
Poole, who grew up in Milwaukee and played three years at Rufus King High School, was the breakout star for the Warriors this season.
The Warriors selected Poole in the 2019 draft, on the heels of their fifth straight appearance in the NBA Finals. But injuries to the Warriors’ future Hall of Famers halted the dynasty for a bit and Poole would learn about the growing pains of being an NBA player. During his rookie season, he spent time with the Warriors’ G-League squad as Golden State posted the league’s worst record with just 15 wins.
But the 22-year-old Poole busted out in his third season. He started 51 games for the Warriors in a year in which he set career highs in all of the major statistical categories.
He shined in the playoffs.
He shot 50.8% from the field, 39.1% from 3-point range and 91.5% from the free-throw line. He averaged nearly 17 points per game in the playoffs, which was just shy of his 18.5 average during the regular season.
Poole scored in double figures in 19 of the Warriors’ 22 postseason games, including two 30-point games.
During the Finals, he averaged 13.2 points on 43.2% shooting and 36.1% from 3-point range in 20.8 minutes.
And he scored 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting Thursday night, including three 3-pointers during a game-turning 21-0 run by the Warriors that overlapped the first and second quarters.
Kevon Looney wins his third NBA Finals with Golden State
Looney, meanwhile, is building quite the championship ring collection as a veteran of the Warriors.
In the former Milwaukee Hamilton star’s seven seasons, the Warriors have been in the NBA Finals five times. Injuries, though, prevented him from playing in the Finals in 2016 and 2017.
This season, Looney continued his progression and showed his durability. The 26-year-old played in all 82 regular season games, starting 80 of them. Both are career highs.
The 6-foot-9 center averaged 6.0 points and 7.3 rebounds, another career high.
Looney, the 30th pick by the Warriors in the 2015 NBA draft, helped Golden State even the series at 1-1 when he scored 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in Game 2.
Gary Payton II wins his first championship ring
The Milwaukee connections didn’t stop there.
Gary Payton II, who was part of the Bucks organization from 2016-18, also had a hand in this year’s Warriors championship.
The 29-year-old shooting guard had his best season, averaging a career high in points (7.1) and games played (71). He had his best showing in Game 5 — a 104-94 Warriors win — when he scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Payton’s father, of course, is Hall of Famer Gary Payton, who also played briefly for the Bucks after he was part of the Ray Allen trade. The elder Payton was there to celebrate with his son Thursday night.
Former Bucks general manager Larry Harris adds another title in the Warriors’ front office
Besides the players, Bucks fans will also recognize someone in the Warriors’ front office.
Larry Harris, who spent 19 years with the Milwaukee Bucks, including five as general manager (2003-07), has been in the Warriors’ organization since 2008. He’s not only been a key figure in the franchise’s rise to the top of the NBA over the last decade but he’s also played a role in bringing in the Milwaukee-born talent.
The 59-year-old just finished his sixth season as the team’s assistant general manager/director of player personnel.
After spending one season on the Warriors bench as an assistant coach following his exit from the Bucks, Harris shifted roles and became a consultant/scout for the team. He held that role for six years.
Contact Christopher Kuhagen at 262-446-6634 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ckuhagen and our newsroom Instagram accounts at MyCommunityNow and Lake Country Now.