Milwaukee Bucks took the NBA by storm last season, taking the first place in the regular season by winning 60 games, while making more buckets than GSW or any other super team in the league. Leading the line was the 2017 Most Improved Player award winner, 6th year veteran, who looking back in hindsight should have been one of the top NBA picks in the draft but somehow fell out of the lottery, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the MVP of 2018-2019 season. The Bucks fell to eventual champions Toronto Raptors in the conference finals, but the future looked bright with the “Greek Freak” at helm. Indeed, Bucks and Antetokounmpo continued this regular season where they left off in the last – leading the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s impact on the Bucks is so large that games he sits the NBA point spread drops around 6 points. No other play has this much impact on the line.
Last season the MVP vote was as clear is it can be. James Harden was the second, but left behind by a country mile. This season, the battle would be fiercer but there is no question who really the Most Valuable Player is. James Harden is scoring more and probably always will be, but his defensive play is not even on the same planet as Antetokounmpo’s. The closest rival in the MVP-race is still, in his 17th season, LeBron James. However, as good as James still is, his numbers pale in comparison to the newer superstar. In addition, it can be argued that James’ supporting troops are a peg higher on the ladder than Antetokounmpo’s. When you look at the NBA over under win totals you can understand how valuable Giannis is to the Bucks. Without Antetokounmpo in that line up the Bucks win total would easily drop 10 games. Giannis means much more to the Bucks than Lebron means to the Lakers.
Antetokounmpo is scoring 3rd most in the league, 29.6 ppg, only after Harden, 34.4 and Bradley Beal, 30.5. James is scoring 25.7 per game. In rebounds, Giannis is 3rd in the league with 13.7 – James has 7.9. LeBron James has the edge in assists, leading the league with 10.6 per game, but Antetokounmpo has made strides in that category as well, averaging 5.8 – not bad for paint-player. But most remarkably, all of this is accomplished with only 30.9 minutes of playing time. In comparison, James averages 34.9 minutes and Harden even more, 36.7 minutes. Defensively Antetokounmpo is on the top of the league (finalist for Defensive Player of the Year 2019) and while LeBron James definitely carries his share of the load, there are others in Lakers handling those duties.
In short, Giannis Antetokounmpo does it all and does it just a little bit better than anyone else – the second consecutive MVP award is well deserved.
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