The NBA recently announced that the annual regular season awards would be based on all the games played up until the NBA postponed play on March 11. This announcement has regenerated the debate among fans over who will be MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, etc. Now as before March, the MVP race seems to be a two-man race between the Bucks and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and four-time MVP LeBron James. Similarly, the Defensive Player of the Year race appears to also be a two-man race: Giannis vs. Lakers’ big man Anthony Davis. Here, we will examine why the Greek Freak should win both, becoming the third player ever to do so in the same season (Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon).
Three Reasons He Should Repeat as MVP
Giannis Is Doing More with Less Playing Time
It is difficult to not look at the stats when deciding who should be MVP. Upon first glance, both Giannis and LeBron are putting up MVP-caliber numbers. Giannis is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 1.0 steals. LeBron is averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 10.6 assists, 0.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals. Again, on first glance, both are very impressive, and arguments can be made either way. Here’s the thing, though: Giannis is average four LESS minutes per game than LeBron. LeBron plays 34.9 minutes per game while Giannis only plays 30.9 minutes per game. Imagine what Giannis would do with four extra minutes per game.
Giannis Is Scoring at a Historic Level
Giannis’s average of 29.6 points per game is third in the NBA this season. Both James Harden and Bradley Beal are averaging over 30 per game, but play more minutes than Giannis. To understand the sheer magnitude of Giannis’s average this season, one needs to look at his scoring per 36 minutes. Currently, Giannis is averaging 34.5 points per-36; LeBron only 26.4. In addition, Giannis is only the third player ever to average 34.5 points per 100 possessions (Wilt Chamberlain and James Harden). In addition, he is averaging more points and rebounds than Wilt or Harden did in their best scoring seasons, and has a higher field goal percentage than both did.
All the Advanced Metrics Point to Giannis
Giannis currently has a PER of 31.71, which leads the NBA. Not only does it lead the league, it is also the sixth highest PER in NBA history. LeBron currently has a PER of 26.08, which is seventh in NBA this year. There are many advanced stats in which Giannis leads over LeBron, but to look at them all would take too much time. Here’s a way to simplify the argument: Giannis Antetokounmpo currently leads the entire NBA in over half of the advanced statistical categories; Lebron does not lead in any.
Three Reasons Giannis Should Win Defensive Player of the Year
Defensive Field Goal Percentage
After coming in second to Rudy Gobert in DPOY voting last season, Giannis is making a case to become the third player ever to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. His case begins with his sheer dominance when defending opponents’ shots. The Greek Freak currently leads the NBA in individual defensive rating. This rating is certainly helped by the fact that he also leads the league in defensive field goal percentage and defensive field goal percentage in the restricted area. Simply put: it’s hard to score on him.
He’s the Best Defensive Player on the Best Defensive Team
It is no secret that the Bucks have the league’s best defense. Their 101.6 defensive rating is over three points lower than the Raptors, who have the second best rating. Coach Bud has put together a great defensive scheme for this team and there are few holes on defense. Giannis plays a huge role in that efficiency, coming in second in the NBA in defensive rebounds per game. The defensive rating, though, when Giannis is on the floor compared to when he is not is the real indicator of his defensive presence. With Giannis playing, the Bucks’ defensive rating is 96.5. When he is on the bench, it jumps to 103.4. 103.4 would still lead the league this season, but 96.5 is otherworldly.
He Can Defend on the Perimeter and in the Post
Many players, especially the size of Giannis, are one-dimensional as to where they can effectively defend. Giannis, on the other hand, is an above average perimeter defender and an absolutely dominant post defender. In addition, he is an incredible transition defender, as seen here: