Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has had a sensational season thus far. Others such as James Harden and Paul George have put together media-absorbing campaigns as well, but Antetokounmpo has been truly sensational. He’s been so good he is deserving of the Kia Most Valuable Player Award and the National Basketball Association’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Antetokounmpo team’s currently has the best record in the NBA (50-17) and has already clinched a playoff spot with fifteen games left to play. Antetokounmpo has been the best player on his team the entire season by far.
Antetokounmpo’s has clearly been the second best, if not the best, offensive force in the league this season. His length and his ability facilitate as well as get any shot he wants make him pretty much impossible to stop, even though he does not have a consistent jump shot. It is practically impossible to stop his drive because he uses his freakish athleticism to get any shot he wants or to make a play for a teammate.
On defense, while Paul George and Rudy Gobert have gotten a lot of the national media attention, Antetokounmpo has been arguably better than both of them. He can rim protect at a similar level to Gobert and can guard players on the perimeter almost to the caliber of Paul George for stretches when he switches onto perimeter players. He anchors his team’s interior defense as their clear best defensive player, which speaks volume since quality defensive players such as Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton are also on the Bucks.
The numbers speak volumes about Antetokounmpo’s true ability and his true value. Compared to the two others frontrunners (James Harden and Paul George) for the MVP Award, Antetokounmpo stacks up extremely well because of both his team’s success and his individual prowess this season.
Harden: 35.0 PTS/36MIN, 6.3 REB/36MIN, 7.2 AST/36MIN, .235 WS/48, +11.0 BPM, 117 Offensive Rating, 109 Defensive Rating, +1.1 On-Off/100 Possessions, 30.0 PER, 61.3 TS%, 40.5 USG%, 62 Games Played.
Antetokounmpo: 29.5 PTS/36MIN, 13.8 REB/36MIN, 6.5AST/36MIN, .283 WS/48, +10.4 BPM, 120 Offensive Rating, 99 Defensive Rating, +7.9 On-Off/100 Possessions, 30.2 PER, 63.9 TS%, 31.8 USG%, 62 Games Played.
George: 27.9 PTS/36MIN, 8.0 REB/36MIN, 4.1 AST/36MIN, .212 WS/48, +5.7 BPM, 117 Offensive Rating, 104 Defensive Rating, +16.9 On-Off/100 Possessions, 24.0 PER, 58.6 TS%, 29.7 USG%, 62 Games Played.
While many people have Antetokounmpo as their leader for MVP, very few have been considering him the leader of the DPOY race. Earlier I discussed his versatility defensively, but the numbers make his case even stronger. His defensive statistics stack up very well to Gobert’s and George’s.
Antetokounmpo: 99 Defensive Rating, 4.8 Defensive Win Shares, +5.0 Defensive Box Plus-Minus, 40.1 Defensive FG%, +2.6 On-Off Team Defensive Rating Difference, 62 Games Played.
Gobert: 101 Defensive Rating, 4.4 Defensive Win Shares, +5.1 Defensive Box Plus-Minus, 45.8 Defensive FG%, +1.5 On-Off Team Defensive Rating Difference, 65 Games Played.
George: 104 Defensive Rating, 3.9 Defensive Win Shares, +0.6 Defensive Box Plus-Minus, 43.1 Defensive FG%, +6.7 On-Off Team Defensive Rating Difference, 62 Games Played.
I could’ve just listed all of the statistics Antetokounmpo leads the league in this season (Defensive Rating, Win Shares, Defensive Win Shares, Win Shares/48, Defensive Rebounds) or is in second in (Offensive Box Plus-Minus, Value Over Replacement Player, Defensive Box Plus-Minus, PER ) or is simply in the Top 20 in (Field Goals Made, 2 Point Field Goals Made, Free Throws, Total Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, Points, Field Goal %, 2 Point Field Goal %, Points/Game, Rebounds/Game, Assists/Game, Blocks/Game, TS%, EFG%, Defensive Rebound %, Total Rebound %, Assist %, Offensive Win Shares, Offensive Box Plus-Minus) and his season would’ve looked just as spectacular as it did when compared to that of the other leading MVP and DPOY candidates.
While both Harden and George have had tremendous campaigns, Antetokounmpo has just been a touch better than both and his team has been the best in the league.
And while George and Gobert have been magnificent defensively, Antetokounmpo has just been a step above both of them this campaign.
MVP and DPOY? Yes. There’s a reason we call him the Greek Freak, folks.
Dylan is a NBA analyst who loves the game, has been covering it since 2015, and became a UniquESports+ contributor this year. You can reach him and enjoy more of his content via his Twitter, @topnbaanalysis.
All statistics other than Defensive Field Goal % (from nba.com) are from basketballreference.com.