Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s path to winning MVP

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 4: (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 4: (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare to resume play after the All-Star break, what does Giannis Antetokounmpo have to do to be named MVP?

The early months of the NBA season began with a bang for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Gaudy box scores, hyper-efficiency, and big time plays in the clutch generated some very early buzz for the Milwaukee Bucks star as an MVP candidate.

Now, the BMO Bradley Harris Center crowd routinely showers their star player with MVP chants. Giannis figures to receive some first place votes, but for him to win requires him to be better than the already impressive season that he’s put together.

This wouldn’t be just a great player winning a prestigious award, but a storybook-like destiny.

More from Bucks News

In the season prior, Antetokounmpo was awarded the league’s Most Improved Player award. Antetokounmpo’s tireless work on his game and “never quit” mentality has manifested itself as an oozy, infectious confidence. He believes the next step for himself is clear.

When told by Fox Sports Wisconsin’s, Jim Paschke, that he was unlikely to win the MIP award again, Antetokounmpo had the perfect response.

"Paschke: You know you won’t be Most Improved again because you were an All-Star starter, right? You probably won’t win that award again.Antetokounmpo: Why? I might be the MVP this year.Paschke: I said Most Improved. MVP you can win.Antetokounmpo: OK, but … if I win the MVP, I can be the Most Improved."

This quote is the Roll Safe meme come to life and embodied by an NBA superstar. It’s the quick little quips like these that have endeared Antetokounmpo to Milwaukee so greatly.

It doesn’t stop there, though. Former NBA player, Kobe Bryant, famously issued challenges to several athletes (and even a musician) last summer, and feeling left out without a challenge of his own, Giannis wondered where his challenge from the future Hall of Famer was.

These moments all acted as momentum and motivation for the 23-year-old coming into this season. The NBA world was ready to see the MVP-caliber Antetokounmpo, and so far he has delivered.

Posting a ridiculous 27.8 points per game (second in NBA,) 10.4 rebounds per game (11th) and 4.8 assists per game (34th) The number one obstacle for Giannis to win is Houston’s James Harden who is currently leading the league in scoring with 31.3 points per game. Harden’s time appears to be now, with many people believing he was robbed from winning the prior year due to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.

Harden is lighting it up in one of the league’s best offenses, who also happen to currently hold the league’s best record.

This is one major key to the award race. The team of the MVP-winner needs to win itself. Thirty-nine of the 62 MVP recipients to date have been on the team with the league’s best record. Twenty-three of them won an NBA championship in the same season.

These aren’t very likely outcomes for Milwaukee, so Giannis will need to make his game and his name shine brighter. He will also need help from the aforementioned Harden. A well-timed Houston skid, coupled with some valleys in Harden’s spectacular season could even the odds.

Similarly to how teammate, Malcolm Brogdon‘s game-winner against Boston late last season pretty much sealed his Rookie of the Year win, Antetokounmpo will need some late game heroics as well.

Playing well in the clutch, and creating big time highlight plays will help any player’s case in terms of national recognition.

Milwaukee as a team must stay in the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff race if there is any hope for Giannis to win. Of the 62 MVP winners, only six winners were on teams that won fewer than 60 percent of their games — Bob Pettit, Bob McAdoo Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone (twice), and Russell Westbrook.

Whether he wins the award or not, Antetokounmpo continues to defy expectations and raise his game to new heights. He’s the crown jewel of basketball in Wisconsin, as well as Greece, and he’s one of the absolute best players in the world.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks: Midseason injury report cards

James Harden had better keep scoring if he wants to ensure he doesn’t end up as an MVP runner-up once again.