NBA MVP Ladder: 2. Giannis Antetokoumpo
Rank last week: 5
Off EPM / Def EPM: +6.0/+1.2
The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off a very impressive week, beating the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Phoenix Suns. Sure, many of those teams were missing key players, but all of them together still made for a hell of a slate, and the Bucks emerged victorious in every contest.
Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged a cool 27/16/6 on 54 percent shooting with four combined steals and blocks per game during that stretch. All while routinely guarding the other team’s best big or wing. (Jimmy Butler has a real Antetokounmpo problem that the Heat will need to solve, but that’s a point for a different post.)
Yawn. At this point, we’re all taking his greatness for granted, and he’s received a fraction of the attention that the top-two candidates have despite a very similar case.
Antetokounmpo is hurt by the fact that his supporting cast is better than most other candidates’ teammates. Khris Middleton is an All-Star who also steals much of the late-game glory. Jrue Holiday is an even better player than Middleton. Either of those guys would be the second-best player on the Denver Nuggets or Philadelphia76ers (ahead of the Harden trade).
The Greek Freak is likely the best two-way player in the game today, but there is significant voter fatigue working against him. He’s already racked up two MVPs, and fairly or not, voters will almost certainly pick someone else when the campaign ends. The reasoning is that Antetokounmpo has already been “rewarded” enough.
If Milwaukee ends the season on a massive winning streak, however, and Antetokounmpo puts up even more otherworldly numbers, he might not give people a choice.