Giannis Antetokounmpo: Analyzing his case as the best player in the NBA

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 02 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 02 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Just over one month after the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA title in over 50 years, the news cycle has slowed down considerably.

That is bound to happen in the time following the NBA Summer League and before players are officially slated to report for training camp. However, last week the debate about who is the best player in the league was rekindled by ESPN as it did a poll with NBA scouts and executives.

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The winner? A tie between Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and Milwaukee’s reigning Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Let’s look at the tale of the tape.

There is no better offensive player in the NBA right now than Durant. Period. He reminded the world of this in this year’s playoff series with the Bucks when he single-handedly carried the injured Nets on his lean shoulders in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Taking a closer look at the Giannis Antetokounmpo versus Kevin Durant debate as the best player in the NBA

In several offensive performances for the ages, Durant scored 49 points with a triple double in Game 5 and scored 48 points in Game 7 with a dramatic tying shot to send the game to overtime. Luckily, our Bucks were able to pull out the victory in overtime on their way to the NBA title. He is the player any team wants with the ball in his hands late in the fourth quarter of a close game and is basically unguardable (even though P.J. Tucker did his absolute best).

If there was any uncertainty of his standing, all one would have had to do is watch the Olympics and see how he was the definitive leader on that team; the best player on a team of All-Stars which would not have won the gold medal without him.

The only deficiency one could say in his game is at this stage in his career – and we are nitpicking – is that he does not attack the rim as much at 32 as he did in his twenties; he will settle for the pull up 10 foot shot. Also, Durant has never made an all-defensive team although many would say he plays stout defense when it matters the most: the NBA Playoffs and the Olympics.

Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, has been a Defensive Player of the Year in 2019-20, made multiple All-Defensive teams, and does nothing but attack the basket. Viciously and without remorse at times; other times, a Eurostep past the defender. While Durant works on the perimeter and is a natural scorer, Antetokounmpo uses brute strength to get where he wants to on the floor. While Durant would rather hit a smooth jump shot in a defender’s face, Giannis would rather dunk on said face. The MVP has a nonstop motor on both sides of the court, and his relentlessness is contagious with his teammates. He never stops.

There is no better all-around player in the NBA right now than Antetokounmpo. Period. No better illustrations of his all-around play than the block in Game 4 against Deandre Ayton, and the dunk in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Both coming in the last two minutes of the game and both series altering plays; Antetokounmpo’s elite ability at its best.

As with Durant, and probably more glaring, are the weaknesses in the game of Antetokounmpo. No need to beat a dead horse, but free throw and 3-point percentage are where Giannis can continue to improve. However, when it mattered most, Game 6 of the NBA Finals, he went 17-19 from the free throw line.

Durant and Antetokounmpo hold the top spot in contrasting ways: offensive finesse vs. all-around athleticism. Antetokounmpo currently sits as the NBA champion and Finals MVP. Durant, a gold medalist. Both showcased the truth this past summer: these are the two best players in the game. Despite what Lebron James may think.

Next. Milwaukee Bucks: Ranking 5 games to circle on 2021-22 schedule. dark

Let the games begin October 19 between the two best players in the game as the Bucks and Nets open up the 2021-22 season.