“I might be the MVP this year.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo responded to Milwaukee Bucks play-by-play announcer Jim Paschke’s statement that he might not win the Most Improved Player award again with the words above. He even added the possibility of repeating as the MIP if he gains the highest individual accolade a basketball player could have.
Well, we don’t know if he could really win those two awards. It does seem far-fetched, because no one in the history of the NBA has gotten those two honors at the same time since the MIP award’s establishment in 1985. But could he really be our next MVP?
Credit: Basketball Reference
The Greek Freak has been consistently improving since his rookie year. His work ethic and continuous passion for the game has led him to an MIP award, an All-NBA Second Team selection, and an All-Star appearance last season.
“When you have a player with the talent he has, the work ethic he has, when you have his humbleness, then you have the makings of a mega-star,” Bucks veteran Jason Terry said.
However, Antetokounmpo is far from perfect.
Room for improvement?
Antetokounmpo is like a byproduct of Russell Westbrook and LeBron James; lean, fast, strong and athletic. The single imperfection he inherited from both of those players, however, is his poor shooting.
While most of his statistics have improved, Antetokounmpo is yet to break his best three-point shooting season back when he was still a rookie. His mid-range jumper hasn’t been any better either since he’s been stuck at around 33% for the past two seasons.
The Greek Freak’s meteoric rise this year was all thanks to his efficiency in the restricted area (68.8%), which has been his main weapon ever since his debut with the Bucks four years ago. He’s attempted 52.6% of his shots in that area alone, and for good measure. Along with Andre Roberson and Jeff Green, these three players are the only ones who shot at around 28% or less while attempting 140+ threes last season.
Players who have been aggressive both offensively and defensively have continuously led their teams to new heights with their energy and relentless attitude. However, it could hurt a team’s chances of winning if left unchecked.
Antetokounmpo had numerous bouts with foul trouble throughout last season as he took more responsibilities from both sides of the floor. He’s had 17 games with five fouls or more and fouled out on four of those instances; the Bucks lost 12 of those games. If Antetokounmpo could control his aggression better, he would improve significantly. Above all else, his team would benefit most from the newfound discipline.
With most NBA players teaming up nowadays just to win an NBA Championship, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the 22-year-old becomes an MVP candidate for the upcoming season. Now, whether he could rise to NBA superstardom is up to him and how much he really wants it. Of course, no one would deny that he’s taken big strides in his career but one question remains: can he make the next big leap?