Giannis Antetokounmpo: Top 3 individual rivals in the league today

(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LA Clippers:
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LA Clippers: /

Kawhi Leonard

In 2018-19 the Milwaukee Bucks stunned the NBA as they had their best regular season since 1980-81 and appeared to be the favorites to win it all. They steamrolled right through the first two rounds of the playoffs and faced a new challenge in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

After leading the series 2-0, the Milwaukee Bucks’ title dreams seemed more realistic than ever. Having to win just two more games to advance to their first NBA Finals in almost 50 years, this genuinely seemed to be the year they would finally do it. However, led by Kawhi Leonard, the Toronto Raptors rallied back and won the next four games to advance to the NBA Finals and send the Bucks home.

Leonard proved to be nearly unstoppable in the series as he averaged 29.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and a block per game throughout the series. Many stated that Leonard had “exposed” Giannis Antetokounmpo as Milwaukee’s title hopes were unbelievably crushed right in front of them.

That type of criticism cannot sit well with Antetokounmpo, who must now live with the events of that series for the rest of his career. Still, knowing Giannis and his killer mentality, every matchup with Kawhi from here on out will be unique because winning is his top priority.

MVP season or not, the forward has publicly stated all he wants is a championship. Every time he faces the man who stomped his title dreams, Antetokounmpo might turn it up a notch because of that chip on his shoulder.

The two have met just once since that postseason series, a game where Antetokounmpo scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to elevate the Bucks to a 119-91 victory on December 6.

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Although it may not seem like the two players share a personal rivalry because of both players’ basketball focused personalities, there will always be something there. Antetokounmpo and Leonard are both near or in the prime of their career, and will continue to battle for years to come.