When Giannis Antetokounmpo likely picks up his second straight MVP award, he will be the most rested MVP of all-time. That could be a big deal for the Milwaukee Bucks as they pursue an NBA championship.
An overarching narrative surrounding the NBA restart was the idea of having such a well-rested league come playoff time. All players were gifted with a four-month bonus rest period, courtesy of (or perhaps better put, discourtesy of) COVID-19.
Despite that taking away the comfort of normalcy from NBA fans (and the world, more importantly), it did allow for players fighting the injury bug to possibly be at full strength come the postseason.
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One of those players was Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, who was fighting a slight knee injury back in March before the season was put on pause. But as coach Mike Budenholzer told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan back in June, Giannis would be entering Walt Disney World 100 percent ready to go.
"“Giannis will be completely and totally healthy. He’s in a great place, both mentally and physically.” Budenholzer told MacMullan back in late-June."
Giannis was having a spectacular season for the Bucks, to no one’s surprise, and arguably one of the best seasons in recent memory. To elaborate on that, he had a 9.0 PIPM (Player Impact Plus Minus) score this season. Only prime Steph Curry and prime Draymond Green recorded better scores since the 2013-14 season, both having a 9.7 PIPM.
PIPM is the holy grail of impact metrics, and is a trustworthy source when measuring how important a player is to a team. Or (and this would be preferred) one could actually just watch the games and see for themselves; it’s evident the team runs through Giannis with every gear. He is the number one reason for Milwaukee’s league-leading 55-14 record
The surprising fact that coincides with the information above is how little Giannis was, and still is, being played this season. Despite averaging a staggering 29.7 points per game and 13.7 rebounds per game, Giannis is miraculously only averaging 30.7 minutes per game this season.
That stat line, as well as a plethora of other things, is what has Giannis seemingly locked in for his second consecutive MVP award this season. When that officially happens, Giannis will have etched his name in the history books in two very specific – yet two very unique – ways.
First and foremost, he will be the 13th player ever to take the MVP award home multiple times. Secondly, he will sit dead last on the MVP list in terms of minutes per game.
MVP winners, MPG (bottom six):
- Russell Westbrook (2017): 35.6 minutes per game
- Steve Nash (2005): 34.3 minutes per game
- Stephen Curry (2016): 34.3 minutes per game
- Bill Walton (1978): 33.3 minutes per game (injured)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (2019): 32.8 minutes per game
- Stephen Curry (2015): 32.7 minutes per game
Not only will Giannis’ 31.0 minutes per game in 2020 put him at the bottom of the list, but it will firmly put him there by two minutes. Considering his ridiculously high (and already discussed) PIPM, Giannis is a dramatic MVP outlier in terms of his impact/MPG ratio. The league has never seen a player so dominant play so little, and when you account for the mid-season break Giannis was given, that becomes even more the case. Giannis will be the most rested MVP of all-time come playoff time in the bubble.
But what exactly does that mean for the Milwaukee Bucks? Should fans feel optimistic or pessimistic by this historical standard that Giannis is setting? To be honest, as is the case with almost all situations, there are both pros and cons depending on which way one looks at it. So, briefly, here is a breakdown of both of those outlooks.