Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been in a tight race for the NBA MVP award with Rockets guard James Harden and the Greek Freak’s jump in development this season can’t be denied. With a reliable sportsbook like Bovada, you can bet on the NBA Playoffs and on who will be named NBA MVP.
Antetokounmpo had an incredible regular season, leading the Bucks to the best record in the entire NBA at 60-22 and they secured home court advantage throughout the playoffs after a hard-fought 128-122 road win against the 76ers on April 4 despite being without Malcolm Brogdon (foot), Nikola Mirotic (left thumb), Tony Snell (left ankle), Pau Gasol (ankle) and Donte DiVincenzo (heel) for over two weeks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo played like an MVP and made a statement with a monster game against Joel Embiid, who a few days earlier said he was the most unstoppable player in the league.
Antetokounmpo proved Embiid wrong, going off for 45 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five blocks (four on Embiid) in 35 minutes and he hit three 3-pointers. It was just one of the instances in which Antetokounmpo has carried the Bucks on his shoulders this season.
The Bucks are a very solid as a whole, to me they’re the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and Antetokounmpo as an individual has been on a completely different level than most players in the league. All aspects of Antetokounmpo’s game have been either pretty good or elite this season, except for his 3-point shot, which makes his effort against the 76ers even more unbelievable.
Selected by the Bucks with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Giannis Antetokounmpo has improved faster than most expected. The Greek Freak went to his first All-Star game in the 2016-17 season and this year he was named the captain of his team in just his third All-Star appearance.
Over time we have seen how the NBA rewards the best team with either a Most Valuable Player Award or multiple players being named All-Stars. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player on the best team and the Bucks just had two All-Stars this season, him and Khris Middleton.
The Bucks will go as far Giannis Antetokounmpo takes them and this team was built to make sure he has more space to operate, as they try to surround him with knockdown shooters so he can attack the paint at will and have the chance to make a choice: score himself or pass the ball to those shooters around him.
Defenses have a hard time stopping Antetokounmpo, they usually try to force the ball out of his hands but the problem is that he’s also a skilled playmaker and his teammates benefit from this. His passing ability is phenomenal and it will keep improving.
The Numbers Support Giannis
James Harden had ridiculous numbers this season, averaging an NBA-best 36.1 points to go along with 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds in 36.8 minutes over 78 games and his streak of 32 games scoring at least 30 points was simply unforgettable but Antetokounmpo’s stats were also spectacular.
Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 32.8 minutes over 72 games and he became the only player in NBA history to average over 29.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per 36 minutes. To me, this can definitely help Antetokounmpo get MVP support and on that April 4 win against the 76ers, he also became the first player in league history to record at least 45 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and three 3-point shots made in a game.
Antetokounmpo’s outside shot is an undeniable weakness but his game is still simply better rounded than Harden’s. How? The Greek Freak can finish with either hand when attacking the basket, his post game is effective and his outside shot is getting better slowly but surely. Also, his ability to read defenses and set up his teammates is unique, seeing someone of his size handling the ball like a point guard is a spectacular sight and it makes him a matchup nightmare.
Need more information to be convinced of this MVP case I built for Antetokounmpo? He’s simply disruptive and versatile as a defender, there’s no better way to describe him. He finished the regular season with 110 blocks and 92 steals, he ranked fourth in the league among power forwards with a 3.30 defensive real plus-minus and he can guard all five positions.
When it comes to NBA MVP requirements, Giannis Antetokounmpo checks all the boxes: he’s part of a successful team, his individual statistics are incredible, he made an impact as a two-way player and he’s very popular.