2021 NBA Finals: Torrey Craig Already a Champion Before Series Begins

The Finals NBA Eastern And Western Conference

Torrey Craig is already an NBA champion even before the 2021 NBA Finals has started.
Craig started the season with the Milwaukee Bucks and is now playing for the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns have opened as slight betting favorites to win the 2021 NBA championship.

As with every NBA Finals series, there are many subplots to this year’s edition of the NBA championship series. Chris Paul is looking for his first ever championship ring and is making his first playoff appearance after 16 season. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are shining in their first playoff run. After two MVP seasons, Giannis is finally in the Finals. After two years as the top seed in the playoffs, the Bucks are finally over the hump. And so on.

And then there is Torrey Craig, who is already an NBA champion even before the Finals series has started:

Torrey Craig is now a 2021 NBA Champion!

The Finals haven’t started yet, but Craig started the season on the Bucks and now he’s on the Suns. He’s getting a ring regardless

— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 4, 2021

This isn’t the first time this has happened although this could be the first time that the player will accept the ring, regardless of who wins.

In 2016, Anderson Varejao was eligible to receive a ring from the Cleveland Cavaliers even though he finished the season with the Warriors. However, Varejao declined to receive what he felt was a “pity ring”. As for Craig, there’s no reason why the Bucks won’t offer him a ring if they won, and the more is there no reason why Craig will decline if it is offered to him.

Torrey Going to the Valley

The Suns have acquired Torrey Craig from the Bucks via trade.

Welcome to The Valley, Torrey! 🙌

— Suns Nation (@SunsNationCP) March 17, 2021

Craig signed with the Milwaukee Bucks last offseason along with Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes as part of their roster overhaul after they were eliminated in the 2nd round of the playoffs in the Orlando bubble. But with the opportunity to acquire defensive specialist P.J. Tucker from the Houston Rockets during the middle of the season, the Bucks traded Craig to the Suns for cash in order to make room for Tucker.

While Craig never really found his role in Milwaukee, the former Denver Nugget blossomed under Monty Williams in Phoenix. After averaging only 2.5 points in 11.2 minutes per game under coach Bud, Craig registered 18.8 minutes per game and scored 7.2 points per outing for the Suns.

Craig shone for the Suns in the Denver series, averaging 6.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in 14.4 minutes of playing time. He played less in the Clippers series but came up big in the closeout Game 6, logging in 31 minutes while scoring 3 points and grabbing 8 rebounds while playing excellent wing defense on the other end of the court.

Craig Has Gone a Long Way

With the #NBADraft taking place tonight, here’s a look at some former #ASUNMBB ballers & their path to the @NBA. 🏀💯

Torrey Craig➡️ #ASUNMBB ➡️ Undrafted ➡️ NBL (Australia) ➡️ Queensland (Australia) ➡️ @nuggets #ASUNBuilt

— #ASUNMBB 🏀 (@ASUN_MBB) November 18, 2020

Craig playing on the big stage in the NBA Finals is an impressive story by itself. After he was an AP honorable mention All-American out of USC Upstate in 2012, Craig went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft and took his talents to Australia where he played for the NBL, and briefly for the NZBL in New Zealand.

He starred in New Zealand, winning MVP honors in 2015 and the NZBL title a year later. Craig re-joined the NBL in 2017 and was named as the league’s Best Defensive Player that season. Finally, the Denver Nuggets rang his phone and he became a solid bench contributor for Denver during the next three years.

Wanting to win an NBA title, Craig signed with the Milwaukee Bucks for a $1.6M veteran’s minimum deal for the 2020-21 season. Things didn’t go as planned in Milwaukee, but he ended up getting traded to a Phoenix team that was one the rise. The Suns finished the 2020-21 season with a better record than the Bucks. Now, Craig is playing for the team that the best NBA betting sites think will win the NBA title. But again, even if the Suns don’t win, he will be eligible to receive a ring with the Bucks. Lucky guy? Partly. The Torrey Craig story is a one of hardwork and determination more than good luck.