We know a few things heading into this NBA season. We know the Warriors will still be the demigods who stomp around and destroy every team in their path; LeBron James will remain the best player on the planet whether he’s playing with Kyrie, Carmelo, or the barista at your local Starbucks; and, LaVar Ball will end up comparing his son to Jesus Christ himself the first game he hits a buzzer beater.
What we presume to know is who will win MVP. Get the yearly contenders out of the way, and make room for the real front-runner. Giannis Antetokounmpo is on his way to his first MVP.
Giannis is somehow in this weird area where people talk about how good he is but don’t fully comprehend it. It’s like a Kendrick Lamar song; you catch yourself nodding along to, it but don’t exactly know what the hell is being said half the time. The man known as The Greek Freak finds himself in the company of some of the best in the league, but not quite at the top according to the MVP odds for the 2017-18 season.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 18, 2017
Granted, it isn’t unreasonable to give Giannis the sixth-best odds to bring home the league’s highest honor. It’s not like he’s being insulting by being listed alongside the names of players like Boban Marjanovic or anyone who puts on a Nets jersey this season. Still, nobody should be surprised when he runs away with the award in a year.
In fact, the only person that’s going to be surprised is Giannis himself when he doesn’t win Most Improved Player of the Year to go along with his MVP.
— theScore (@theScore) August 1, 2017
His argument does kind of make sense and absolutely follows the trajectory he’s going in, which makes him the most intriguing player on the list of MVP candidates. Each year in the league he’s seen his points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, and field goal percentage go up while taking on more responsibilities on both ends of the court.
He was the only player to finish in the top 20 in the first five categories listed above, and is barely old enough to order an ice-cold Bud Light after a game. Most of the players at the top of the league have plateaued at this point in their career, but Giannis still has an incredible amount of upside at every facet of the game even though he was a starter in the All-Star game just a year ago.
Just looking at the way the man fills up the stat sheet while remembering he can possibly be even better puts him in a category all by himself.
Giannis is averaging 23.1 points, 5.4 assists, 8.7 boards 1.9 blocks.
List of players to average 23/5/9/2:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (twice)
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) April 9, 2017
There are still people who don’t really buy into the hype, are some of the reasons are fair. Some people don’t like to live life through a stat sheet and simply haven’t gotten a chance to see Giannis defy the laws of physics on a nightly basis because they don’t find themselves tuning into too many Milwaukee Bucks games.
All it takes is a minute of your time and a just a minuscule sample size of his highlights to understand that this man is not a man at all and is, in fact, something that was created in a lab or was bit by some sort of radiation infested creature.
My Dark Horse for MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. pic.twitter.com/l8sf08huwC
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) August 18, 2017
The skills and the numbers are clearly there, and he has one of the best opportunities out of any player listed above.
Everybody likes hero ball these days. Just look at how the world fell in love with Russell Westbrook last season when he scooped Oklahoma City up on his shoulders and single-handedly carried them into the playoffs. Thon Maker, Malcolm Brogdon, and Jabari Parker are all good, but none are great just yet, and may never be.
If his numbers increase while the wins keep piling up, it likely won’t be a “team” effort, unless the word team is somehow jammed into the last name Antetokounmpo. While there is talent in Milwaukee, there’s still a chance Giannis will have to put the team on his back and carry them to a top seed in the weak Eastern Conference, which should be easier than it’s ever been.
There’s a simple recipe that creates an MVP. You take ridiculous numbers, add a hefty amount of wins, sprinkle in some unearthly highlights, and then you have a final product that makes any contestant on Top Chef proud. Even Kevin Durant realizes all those ingredients are sitting in Milwaukee.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) June 27, 2017
The numbers and the highlights are already there, which means Giannis just has to lead his team to about 50+ wins to get noticed. With the Bulls, Pacers, and Hawks all expected to fall out of the top eight in the East while few teams actually got better, that many wins isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The Bucks would likely have to surpass either the Cavs, Celtics, Wizards or Raptors to have a shot, but anything is possible when you have a martian disguised as a human going by the name Giannis.
The most absurd thing about Giannis is just how many people don’t understand how great he is. Maybe more wins and more nationally televised games will help, but there’s still another step Giannis has to take, from being considered one of the best to being the best. You don’t have to get on board the bandwagon because it’s already pretty full, but at least learn how to pronounce the name of your 2017-18 MVP.