5 must-see NBA players every fan can’t afford to miss in 2023–24

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles against Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets NBA (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles against Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets NBA (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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MIAMI, FLORIDA – APRIL 24: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Forward, Milwaukee Bucks

It seems many forget how truly great the “Greek Freak” is. He’s been in the MVP conversation religiously over the past five seasons, having won two of them back-to-back in 2019 and 2020.

Since the Bucks won their title in 2021, they have struggled to reach the Conference Finals, losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2022 semifinal round and the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2023 playoffs.

But let’s add context. In 2022, Bucks All-Star forward and No. 2 option Khris Middleton went down with a knee injury against the Bulls in the first round, which cost them their secondary go-to scorer.

In 2023, the Bucks were without their marquee franchise player, and arguably the best player in the league in Antetokounmpo for two games due to a back injury that cost them a chance to regain ground on a Heat team that had it all clicking for them.

The acquisition of Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard (who will get into later) via trade after Antetokounmpo put pressure on the organization by not signing the extension to remain with the Bucks, which fueled the need to make a move to move the needle to increase their title chances and the hopes of Antetokounmpo signing back with the team.

His main goal is to win championships, as he’s stated on multiple occasions. As long as the organization shows they are as committed to winning as he is, he’ll stay.

He and Lillard should make for the most dynamic pick-and-roll duo the league has seen in years since probably the Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire-led Phoenix Suns Seven Seconds Or Less offensive of the 2000s.

That’s how dynamic they are as scorers, with Lillard having range out to the logo as one of the best scorers, three-point shooters, and clutch scorers of all time, and Antetokounmpo being the best finisher we’ve seen in this generation and the best of the century outside of LeBron and Shaquille O’Neal.

Antetokounmpo averaged 31.1 points per game last season (a career-high) but wasn’t as effective defensively or in the win share department as years prior, contributing the lowest win share (8.6) and win share per 48 minutes (.204) since his first MVP season in 2019.

Many media members now consider Jokic the best in the league after his historic postseason run last season, similar to Antetojounmpo’s in 2021. He will be hungry to regain that title and it will be fun to watch him and the new-look Bucks wreak havoc on the league.