After what has been yet another wild and NBA landscape altering off-season (aren’t they all these days?) with LeBron James taking his talents to Hollywood, Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan swapping area codes, and DeMarcus Cousins giving the Warriors a starting lineup of five former all-stars, the race for the league’s most coveted individual honor has been shaken up again.
Will LeBron carry a 30-win Lakers team and average roster at best to 50+ wins and his fifth league MVP? Maybe. Will Kevin Durant or Steph Curry be special enough to separate themselves from their ridiculously loaded team to win another MVP award? Unlikely. Could James Harden repeat as MVP or will MVP-Russ return with yet another season of averaging a triple-double but possibly a 50+ win team to go with it this time? It’s possible. Can Anthony Davis carry the Pelicans to the western conference top-tier and pick up his first MVP? That feels like a valid possibility.
I envision one man making another leap this season and taking himself and his team to new heights en route to his first MVP award: Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Greek Freak continued to improve in his fifth NBA season in 2017-18 at the age of 23, averaging a career high in points (26.9), rebounds (10.0), field goal percentage (52.9%), three-point percentage (30.7%) and Player Efficiency Rating (27.3) en route to being voted 6th in MVP voting and having his team one win away from getting his first playoff series victory.
Antetokounmpo is entering his mid-20s, the early stages of his true NBA prime, and has proven two years in a row now that he is one of the handful of best players in the entire league. He has also been slowly transforming his body to become stronger and more difficult to defend and looks shredded this off-season (seriously, check it out).
With LeBron James out of the eastern conference, the mantle is open for the conference’s most dominant player and the Greek Freak is ready to take it.
While everybody focuses on the Celtics, 76ers and Raptors as they should, they forget that the Bucks have the best player of any of those teams and a roster that has struggled to stay healthy the past few seasons. They could easily be the team to make the jump into the eastern conference’s elite and find themselves a 50 win team next season.
The Greek Freak’s numbers and efficiency has risen across the board over the past five seasons and he feels poised to make yet another leap in his sixth season and feel what may be an MVP void in 2018-19.
A 28-10-7 season with a 50-win Bucks team is well within reason and could be enough to give Antetokounmpo the highest individual honor in the sport in 2018-19.
As always there are many worthy candidates and possibilities for MVP in the 2018-19 season, but I am putting my money on Giannis Antetokounmpo to win his first league MVP.