Only two players in NBA history have won both MVP and DPOY in the same season, and Giannis Antetokounmpo could join the prestigious club very soon.
When Giannis Antetokounmpo took home his first league MVP award last season, many suspected that it would not be his last. Although the concept was far from controversial, what Antetokounmpo has achieved this past season stunned everyone and should earn him not one, but two of the league’s most honorable awards.
The reigning league MVP undoubtedly had the best season of his career, as he averaged 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. Antetokounmpo’s stats in points and rebounds qualified as new career-bests, while he fell just short of the career-high 5.9 assists he achieved last season.
No. 34 performed fantastically on the defensive end also, as he averaged a block and a steal each per game. Antetokounmpo’s impact on the defense expanded beyond just these two stats as he led the league in defensive rating by a long shot at 96.2.
Aside from his defense, one of the more overlooked aspects of Antetokounmpo’s statistics this year was his Player Efficiency Rating (PER). For a majority of the season, the forward was not only on pace to have the highest PER in the league, but the highest in NBA history. Giannis fell just short of the all-time mark when the season got suspended as his 31.7 PER per could not surpass Wilt Chamberlain‘s 31.8 PER in 1962-63.
Led by their MVP’s incredible numbers, the Milwaukee Bucks once again possessed the best record in the league and were on pace for 70 wins until they dropped a few games right before play suspended. With Antetokounmpo at the helm, many believed that this Milwaukee team ranked up there with some of the best teams in NBA history because of what he had showcased all season.
The most memorable part of Antetokounmpo’s season is that he achieved all of these feats while having averaged 30.9 minutes per game, the fewest since his rookie season. Having played fewer minutes while showcasing improved play on either side of the ball, Giannis’ name repeatedly got mentioned in talks for both Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year all season.
If the 25-year-old were to take home these awards whenever the season has officially concluded, he would join one of the most reputable clubs in NBA history. Only two players can say they’ve won both MVP and DPOY in the same season, Michael Jordan in 1987-88, and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1993-94.
Is Antetokounmpo’s stellar season good enough to be placed among two of the game’s all-time greats? Absolutely.
With the likelihood that the league will still hand out awards if the season forcibly ends due to the coronavirus pandemic, Antetokounmpo’s second consecutive MVP award appears to be heading his way. In a recent survey of 70 media members associated with the league, 60 of them voted for Antetokounmpo as their MVP, the other 10 going to LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.
While the MVP award seems undoubtedly in favor of Antetokounmpo, the DPOY award remains up in the air. Several other players such as Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, and even teammate Brook Lopez find themselves in the mix for the award and could provide trouble for Antetokounmpo’s case. Still, with his contributions on that end of the court and highest defensive rating in the entire league, the forward has a solid case himself.
The Milwaukee Bucks may not get the chance to compete for a championship this season with the league facing cancellation, but Giannis Antetokounmpo’s historical season will still go down as one of the NBA’s best. Whether he wins one, both, or neither of the awards this season, No. 34 has a long career ahead of him and has the arsenal to achieve this feat at some point.