Milwaukee Bucks: ESPN experts predict Giannis Antetokounmpo as MVP and DPOY

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

ESPN’s Forecast panel released their picks for this season’s NBA awards, and to the surprise of no one, the Milwaukee Bucks had several nominees.

When the season halted irregularly due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Milwaukee Bucks owned the league’s best record at a phenomenal 53-12. They were one of the premier contenders all season long, and if the season does resume, they could complete what was shaping up to be one of their best seasons ever.

Regardless of what happens, the Milwaukee Bucks consistently made headlines throughout 65 games this season as this team took a significant step forward. Giannis Antetokounmpo primarily stood in the spotlight as he made his case to win his second consecutive MVP award, which overshadowed just how well this unit played together.

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Still, ESPN’s Forecast panel released their picks and predictions for the end of the season awards recently, and this well-rounded Milwaukee team was heavily involved. Divided into a who should win and who will win category, several key Bucks impacted the lists.

Antetokounmpo’s MVP chances were the most apparent prediction, and the media voted for him as the favorite by a landslide. Giannis received 76 percent of the who should win votes and a stunning 85 percent of the who will win votes. Rightfully so, as the 25-year-old improved upon his MVP-winning season last year, having averaged an impressive 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game this season.

Antetokounmpo’s historic season saw him shatter countless records on a nightly basis, having achieved all of this playing just 30.9 minutes per game, his fewest minutes since his rookie year. Giannis asserted himself as the clear frontrunner all season long, and this poll showcased that he rightfully deserved it.

Sticking with Antetokounmpo, it appears that Most Valuable Player may not be the only award he takes home this season. In slightly more diverse voting, Giannis earned 56 percent of the who should win votes and 50 percent of the who will win votes in the Defensive Player of the Year category.

Antetokounmpo averaged a block and a steal each on the defensive end per game this season, but his impact went far beyond that. No. 34 ranked first in defensive rating this season, with no other player having come close to his 96.2 rating.

Winning this award along with MVP would cement Antetokounmpo’s name among two of the greatest players in history, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. At the moment, those two are the only players to win MVP and DPOY in the same season, and there could very likely be another joining them soon.

Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the way as a potential MVP and DPOY winner, but he’s not the only Milwaukee Bucks’ representative in the awards mix.

Antetokounmpo’s historic season aside, another member of the Milwaukee Bucks featured was George Hill, this time in the Sixth Man of the Year voting. Although he was not the frontrunner, Hill finished with 3 percent of the who should win vote, having made an impression on at least one voter with his stellar play.

Hill averaged 9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game this season, having provided an essential spark off of Milwaukee’s bench all year. Although his numbers may not appear to be the most eye-catching, Hill also led the league in 3-point percentage for a majority of the year with an astonishing 48.0 percent as he contributed immensely to this dominant offense.

Lastly, another reigning award winner, head coach Mike Budenholzer was among the NBA’s Coach of the Year candidates. Having coached the Milwaukee Bucks to the league’s best record for the second straight season, it came as no surprise that he was involved, even if it was not as the clear winner.

Budenholzer received 6 percent of the votes under the who should win category, complemented by 18 percent in the who will win slot. Although his team possessed the best record, Budenholzer took third place behind Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors and Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, whom both had phenomenal outings this season.

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Overall, this is a strong showing from the league-best Milwaukee Bucks, who had several members present throughout the voting predictions. While the biggest goal of winning a championship this season has not changed, seeing several familiar faces in the voting was a welcome sign.