The Milwaukee Bucks boast the league’s best defense per 100 possessions (101.7), the league’s best effective field goal percentage (55.6%) and in rebounds per game (52.0). As a squad, they are on pace to become the third team in NBA history to win 70 games and their fearless leader looks virtually unstoppable. (All stats via NBA.com) The Bucks are great because of the sum of their parts, but their engine is a V12 capable overpowering anyone who dares race him down the strip.
Giannis Antetokoumpo is a 25-year-old reigning MVP who is still figuring out who he can be as a basketball player.
Betting against The Greek Freak for the MVP award would be akin to betting against the Houston Astros not getting plunked over 80 times in 2020 or betting on your favorite school’s 2020 NCAA Tournament Odds.
Is Antetokounmpo REALLY a sure thing to bring home another Maurice Podoloff Trophy? TSFJ’s basketball enthusiasts Johnathan Tillman and Ron Hampston make compelling cases on whether someone not named Giannis will hoist the MVP award this summer.
LeBron James: Giannis may have the domination aspect of the MVP vote due to his team’s record, but he does not have the narrative aspect down. LeBron James is having his typical outstanding season at age 35 and after a 2018-19 year in which he missed a quarter of it with a groin injury. To have 17 years of NBA excellence and be as productive as he’s been for the conference-leading Lakers certainly puts him in the MVP discussion.
LeBron in on pace to average 25 points per game for the 16th straight year. He’s also leading the NBA in assists — something he’s never done in his career. Only missing two games with that kind of team playmaking burden, at 35, shows a dedication to greatness and a recognition of his importance to basketball as a whole. A fifth regular-season MVP trophy it well within The King’s reach, even if he isn’t the favorite at the moment. — Johnathan Tillman
Anthony Davis: Giannis will likely win his second MVP in a row, but it shouldn’t be so simple. Anthony Davis is one that could dethrone him given that he is having a historic season. In his first season in Los Angeles, Davis is averaging a shade under 27 points, 10 rebounds, threee assists, two blocks, and a steal per game. In addition to that, he is in the conversation to win the Defensive Player of the Year. He is 8th in defensive plus-minus, 4th in defensive rating, and 3rd in blocks per game.
In any other season coupled with the best record in the Western Conference, AD would be a shoo-in to win the MVP.
The bar has been unfairly set high for Davis given that he is playing alongside fellow MVP candidate LeBron James. When diving into his numbers, they are more superior than past power forwards (Barkley, Malone, Duncan, Garnett, and Nowitzki) that have won the award.
The aforementioned players bested all-time greats Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant en route to winning the MVP. That is to say, the historic semblance of unseating or outplaying a player in their right is not the case.
There is still a lot of basketball to be played and Davis can make a final push to take the top spot even though Giannis has a commanding lead over the competition. — Ron Hampston
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