Giannis Antetokounmpo: Although favored, winning third MVP is a tall task

Giannis Antetokounmpo is an early favorite to win the NBA MVP award in 2020-21, but his path to a third consecutive nomination will be challenging.

As Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated taking home his first MVP award in the summer of 2019, he had a simple message for fans: “After today, please don’t call me MVP… until I win it again next year!”

True to his word, Antetokounmpo took home the honors for a second straight year in 2019-20 and also added Defensive Player of the Year to his ever-growing resume. Giannis was just the third player to ever take home both awards in the same season, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon, and etched his name in NBA history books alongside a pair of the greatest to ever do it.

Now, following his historic 2019-20 season, Antetokounmpo is the early favorite to win next season’s Most Valuable Player, per PointsBet odds.

The Greek Freak comes as the favorite with +350 odds, Slovenian phenom Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks second at +450, and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors rounding out the top three at +600.

In the history of the game, only three players have ever won the MVP award in three consecutive seasons, those being Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird. Could Giannis Antetokounmpo become the first player to take home the award in three straight seasons since Larry Bird in 1986? Although the odds currently appear in his favor, it will undoubtedly be an uphill battle for the 25-year-old.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s case for his third MVP will be haunted by the Milwaukee Bucks’ last two postseason outings.

The Bucks have possessed the best overall regular season record in consecutive seasons and were believed to be the Eastern Conference favorites to make the NBA Finals in both trips. While that failure does not fall solely onto the shoulders of Giannis Antetokounmpo, it will undoubtedly weaken his case for next season. As alluded to by Behind the Buck Pass’ own Jordan Treske: 

“There’s no way around the fact that whatever voter fatigue that currently exists around Antetokounmpo in light of his own playoff struggles this year will hinder his case for next year, however deserving he’ll inevitably be. The fact that the Bucks have fallen short of reaching the NBA Finals for two years running only bolsters that theory.”

While Antetokounmpo should not get written off entirely for the MVP running next season, it would take another Herculean effort to get him atop the ballots once again. This is certainly possible, but after winning his second regular season MVP award, the Greek Freak has his eyes set on the biggest prize of them all.

As Giannis told TNT’s Ernie Johnson as he accepted his second MVP award virtually from Greece: “Don’t call me two-time MVP until I’m a champion.”

Antetokounmpo’s desire to win an NBA title has always stood above all else, and that might not be more prominent than ever heading into the 2020-21 season. Both Giannis and the entire Bucks organization know what is at stake as the 25-year-old potentially enters the final year of his current contract.

Winning would undoubtedly make it easier for Antetokounmpo to sign his name on the dotted line of a five-year supermax extension as his future with the franchise looms large.

While Antetokounmpo taking home his third consecutive MVP award would be a welcoming sight, the end goal is an NBA championship, both of which will come will tremendous adversity.