While this season’s MVP conversation has been dominated by names such as Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, James Harden, and LeBron James one name has been absent. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2x MVP and 1x DPOY has been mostly absent from MVP talks this year. The truth of the matter is, Giannis really deserves to be in the front of the MVP convo, and here’s why.
Giannis has been arguably as good on offense this year as he was in his last two MVP years. This year, Giannis has averaged 28.3 ppg on 55% from the field and 30% from deep on 3 attempts per game. He’s also averaging a career-high in assists, at 6.4 per game. His free-throw shooting, which has been an often-criticized part of his game, has improved nicely from last year, jumping from 63% to 67%. Overall, his game has really opened up these last two years. He’s grown much more confident in his 3 pointer and has built up a solid midrange game complimented by a post-fade away that has served him well.
The reigning DPOY has also once again been elite on the defensive side of the floor. His steals are the highest they’ve been since 2018-2019, at 1.2 a game. The Greek Freak’s rebounding numbers are also elite on defense, snagging 9.7 DRB a game this year. Antetokounmpo’s DRB%, which tracks the percentage of available defensive rebounds a player grabbed while on the floor is at 29.1%. Giannis’ DWS also sits at 2.5. DWS, or defensive win shares, is the number of wins contributed by a player thanks to his defense. While he has seen a decrease in most defensive stats from his elite DPOY year, Giannis has remained elite on the defensive side of the floor, and it should help his case.
As we all know with the MVP award, team success is a huge part of voting. If you’re putting up MVP caliber numbers, but your team is the 6th seed in the east, you probably won’t win. You have to be putting up fantastic numbers on a contender, which really weeds out the field well. And while the Bucks aren’t playing as well as they have the last two years, they still have the amount of success that would be needed to justify Giannis winning. Milwaukee currently sits at 29-17, 3 games behind Philadelphia and the 1 seed. Milwaukee is firmly in the elite tier of teams in the East and the NBA, which will help Giannis.
Giannis deserves to be in the MVP conversation. His offensive production is still elite, and he has added a few new wrinkles to his game. The DPOY is still here and is a guaranteed 1st team all-defensive player along with definitely being in the DPOY conversation. The Bucks record this year certainly helps his case, even though their record isn’t as good as last year. Giannis deserves to be getting a lot more press for MVP than he has gotten this year. Recency bias isn’t a good excuse, no matter how many times he’s won. Giannis is yet again having another elite, MVP caliber year, and deserves the recognition.
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