The Milwaukee Bucks will soon offer Giannis Antetokounmpo a super-max extension. Here are the five reasons he should take it.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is in rare company. After being named the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year in addition to walking away with the MVP trophy, he became just the third player to win both awards in the same season. The other two players to do that were Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.
While being on the same list as two first-ballot Hall of Famers is a nice enough distinction, there’s something else those two men have in common that Giannis desperately wants. They were both able to guide the teams that drafted them to an NBA championship. After compiling the best regular-season record in the league in each of the last two seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks suffered disappointing losses in the playoffs. They are still yet to make the NBA Finals in the Antetokounmpo era.
Giannis is a throwback to a different era in the NBA. He has stated publicly that he doesn’t want to participate in off-season workouts with rival All-Stars. From the outside looking in, it appears that the only basketball players he hangs out with in the offseason are his three brothers, all of whom play professionally.
There are two more Hall of Famers with a unique distinction who Giannis would like to join, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Both all-time greats played their entire career for one franchise. While decades ago, that was not at all uncommon, it’s increasingly rare in today’s NBA.
Although Giannis has stated that he will not demand a trade if an extension cannot be worked out with the franchise this offseason, he has also stated that winning will play a factor in whether he decides to leave or stay. He only has one year left on his contract and the eyes of the entire basketball world will be watching all season long.
The Milwaukee Bucks can breathe a sigh of relief if their young superstar signs a super-max extension this off-season and decides to forego the free-agent process. Here are all the reasons he should do just that.
5. Khris Middleton is a great compliment to Antetokounmpo
During the 2018-19 season, Anthony Davis made it clear to the New Orleans Pelicans that he wanted out of town. Not only did he ask for a trade, but he also specified that the Los Angeles Lakers were his preferred destination. This forced the Pelicans to engage in trade talks with the Lakers because other teams were scared off by the thought of having Davis on a one-year rental after trading away valuable assets to get him. The Lakers were unable to put together a package the Pelicans were willing to accept and ultimately no deal was reached before the trade deadline.
The difference between this scenario and the one Giannis Antetokounmpo finds himself in is that Anthony Davis’ sidekick, DeMarcus Cousins, suffered a season-ending injury in 2018 and was forced to take the veteran’s minimum from the Golden State Warriors that summer. This left Davis on an island with no reliable second All-Star to accompany him. Antetokounmpo on the other hand has a reliable second option who is coming off a second straight All-Star selection, Khris Middleton.
In fact, it was Middleton who took over in Game 4 of the Bucks’ second-round match-up against the Miami Heat and helped the team avoid a sweep. Taking it upon himself to pour in 36 points after Antetokounmpo went down early with an ankle injury, Middleton sealed the deal in overtime, burying a clutch 3-pointer with six seconds left.
Every champion in NBA history has had key performances from someone other than their franchise player at some point. James Worthy gave the Lakers a much-needed triple-double in Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals. John Paxson hit five fourth-quarter jump shots in the closeout game against the Lakers in the 1991 Finals, helping the Chicago Bulls secure their first title.
If Giannis is going to win an NBA championship, he’s going to need some help doing it no matter what franchise he’s playing for. The fact that he’s already got a teammate of Middleton’s caliber should make staying in Milwaukee that much more attractive.