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In the first two installments of the MVP series, we looked at James Harden and Nikola Jokic. At the time of writing both of those pieces, those two players were in the middle of what can only be described as hot streaks. Harden was in the middle of an incredible streak of 32 games in which he scored over 30 points per game, while Jokic was on his way to eclipsing the triple-double mark of Michael Jordan.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has always been in the race for the MVP award, however, the streaks and records of players like Jokic and Harden pushed his case to the side briefly. With that being said, the impact of the ‘Greek Freak’ on Milwaukee’s team is too hard to ignore. Add in the fact that he is a statistic beast, and we had the main man that could challenge James Harden for the MVP award; if not win it.
The impact that Giannis Antetokounmpo has on the Bucks is only second to the impact that James Harden has on the Rockets. Milwaukee is the second-highest team in the NBA in terms of points per game, scoring around 117 on any given night. In the 5 games that Antetokounmpo has missed so far this season (as of 3/12), the Bucks average 10 points less per game. The Bucks are 3-2 in those 5 games, but it shows the impact on offense that Antetokounmpo has.
Rebounding is one statistic that doesn’t seem to be affected, in fact, the average over those 5 games ends up being much higher than the 49 rebounds per game averaged this season. The need for other players to step up in the absence of the near 7-foot Antetokounmpo isn’t a bad thing, however, the loss of a man who averages a double-double requires others to step up to the plate.
Speaking of double-doubles, Giannis Antetokounmpo seems to have quite the knack of filling up the stats column with them. After 62 games this season, Antetokounmpo has 48 double-doubles, not to mention the 5 triple-doubles that he has amassed. In what could be deemed a bit of a cruel twist, 5 of those missed games were by a single rebound. He could have 3 more triple-doubles too, missing out on those by a single assist.
His mass amount of double-doubles sees him at 5th so far this season, while his triple-double tally is currently enough for 6th. It’s already a career high season in doubles, while he has currently tied his best triple-double tally from the 2015/16 season.
There is no denying that Giannis Antetokounmpo has been incredible for the Bucks after breaking out in the 2014-15 season, with every season since getting better and better. Last year, Antetokounmpo had a career year across the board with offense being one of the main highlights. This season, it’s looking even better for the MVP candidate.
After the 121-114 loss against San Antonio, Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 27 points per game. It’s on par with last season, where he ended up dropping 26.9 points per game. That 27 ppg is good for a share of 7th in the league, shooting at 58% from the field. That percentage, never mind it being a career high, is the best in the top 40 scorers list. He is only rivaled by John Collins at 57.2%, with the next best in the top 40 being Julius Randle at 52.6%.
His scoring efficiency has exploded as a result of his bigger presence within the paint, as well as the need to respect his shots from range. While only shooting at 25% from long range, it forces teams to cover him. With the speed and reach to get in and around defenders to the bucket, it has brought his efficiency from 54% to 59%.
Defensively, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been lights out. His rebounding has been one of the major upgrades in his game this year, with him averaging 12.6 rebounds a game. Out of those 12.6 rebounds, 10 end up being defensive. That average is good enough for 5th in the league this year, with his total defensive rebounds enough for 2nd overall. With one less game played, he is only a single rebound behind Andre Drummond. To put his rebounding this year into perspective, his total average last year was 10.
Did we mention that his court vision has improved as well? Antetokounmpo is averaging a career-high 6 assists a game, good for 18th in the league right now. His assists-to-turnover ratio is a little straggly at 1.56, however, it’s better than his main MVP rival. James Harden is currently averaging 1.4 turnovers a game more than Giannis, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is at 1.44.
The saving grace that may topple all the stats is that Milwaukee currently leads the Eastern Conference, and may indeed hold that spot through the rest of the season. Houston is currently 3rd in the Western Conference, with only 4.5 games separating them from 8th. Milwaukee has confirmed their playoff berth with 15 games left, while Houston could mathematically drop out if they have a form slump similar to the start of the season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led from the front in Milwaukee. He has only had one game under 10 points, while his lowest rebounding effort has been 6. James Harden has had a low of 15 points, but his rebounding and assists lows are 1 a piece. If Milwakuee can hold the Eastern Conference and get through as the #1 seed, there is a distinct possibility that we see our first MVP coming out of Greece in the Greek Freak.
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