With a mix of veteran superstars, players on new teams and young players primed to break out, this year’s MVP race should be one of the best we’ve seen in recent years. LeBron James and Stephen Curry have won the award six times in the past decade. Other winners include prime Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City and an extra-motivated Russell Westbrook last season. This year, it’ll be tough for players playing alongside other stars to boast a good enough stat line to win MVP. Curry averaged five fewer points per game once Durant joined him. Expect a similar dip for players like James Harden and Westbrook. Especially now that each of them are playing with guys like Chris Paul, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. There is a great opportunity for a young player to emerge into the MVP conversation. And Giannis Antetokounmpo may be the best candidate. With Jabari Parker likely to miss most of the regular season, the Greek Freak has the chance to be an even bigger focal point of the offense in Jason Kidd’s system. Based on Antetokounmpo’s improvement, he’ll be filling the stat sheet like no one else can. Last year, he became the first player to finish top 20 in the league in all five major stat categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks). He also led his team in all five categories, something only four other players have done in NBA history. If he can bump his scoring up to match some of the league’s best (let’s say around 28 points per game), his other contributions will give him a big edge over other MVP candidates. The only thing missing from Antetokounmpo’s game is a solid jump shot. He’s a career 27 percent shooter from three. And, only a 32 percent shooter from 10-16 feet. His athleticism and incredible length makes up for his flaws, especially near the basket. He shot 70 percent from inside the paint last season, using a combination of finesse moves and pure force to punish any defender near him. It looks as if he’s worked on his shot tirelessly this offseason. He’s already shown flashes of it in the preseason—just ask the Chicago Bulls. Giannis is already a monster in transition and recently showed his ability to pull up from three as well with a buzzer-beating shot from deep. Later in the game, he looked good shooting off the dribble as a pick-and-roll ball handler. Once he learns how to shoot consistently, the rest of the league is screwed.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is ready to be an MVP
Yardbarker | Oct 9