NBA MVP Race: Why Giannis Antetokounmpo Can Win the Award

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo

Getty Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives against Semi Ojeleye #37 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter of Game Seven in Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 28, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is in the middle of a tight race for the NBA MVP award with James Harden and Paul George. Antetokounmpo’s jump in development this season hasn’t gone unnoticed and right now I consider him the frontrunner.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an incredible season, leading the Bucks to the best record in the entire league at 47-14. The Milwaukee Bucks have already surpassed their win total from last season and if they keep this up they will have home court advantage throughtout the playoffs.

The Bucks obviously have looked great as a whole but The Greek Freak as an individual has been even better. Antetokounmpo’s weakness, his 3-point shooting has improved significantly, with his percentage increasing month after month, going all the way up to 40.0 percent in February. The other aspects of his game were already either pretty good or elite.

Selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Giannis Antetokounmpo has improved faster than anyone expected, he earned his first All-Star appearance in 2016-17 and he was just the captain of a team in his third All-Star game.


The Best Team Gets Rewarded

There’s been exceptions but the NBA usually rewards the best team with either a Most Valuable Player Award or multiple All-Stars. Antetokounmpo is clearly the best player on the best team and the Bucks barely got Khris Middleton as an All-Star too, which tells you how much of an impact he makes on this team.

The Bucks go as Giannis Antetokounmpo goes and they built their team to make sure he can play in more space and be surrounded by knockdown shooters, which allows him to attack the paint at will and choose between scoring himself or passing it to those shooters around him. Defenses just can’t stop him, they may force the ball out of his hands but his passing skills are second to none and his teammates benefit from this.


His Numbers Support Him

James Harden’s season has been historical, that can’t be denied, which makes it hard for anyone else to upend him and win the Most Valuable Player award. Harden is averaging 36.2 points, 7.6 assists and 6.6 rebounds in 37.3 minutes over 57 games and he had an amazing streak of 32 games scoring at least 30 points but Antetokounmpo’s numbers, while not as impressive, mean a lot to the Bucks.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.0 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists, so he can become the first player to average 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists per game since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 season and he can be the only player in NBA history to average over 29.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per 36 minutes. Doing something that’s never been done before should help Giannis get more MVP support.


He Has an All-around Game

There’s no denying that Antetokounmpo’s outside shot is his weakness but his game is still better rounded than Harden’s and George’s. He can finish with either hand when attacking the basket, his post game is promising and his outside shot is coming along but he’s also very dangerous when he has to read defenses and create for his teammates, as he can handle the ball like a point guard.

Antetokounmpo is a disruptive and versatile defender, he’s just one of two players with at least 75 blocks and 75 steals this season, he’s sixth in the NBA among power forwards with a 2.93 defensive real plus-minus and he can guard all five positions. Simply put, he checks all the boxes to be the NBA Most Valuable Player: team success, incredible individual statistics, impact as a two-way player and popularity.

Trusted sportsbooks like BetOnline, Jazz Sports, 5Dimes and Bovada have NBA MVP odds on offer and they recently moved Antetokounmpo ahead of Harden. The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook also favors him to win the award at -250 and to me, he’s the best bet to win this award.

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