Giannis Antentokoumnpo should be the unanimous 2019-20 MVP
Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images
The 2019-20 NBA season has given us a lot to talk about. All the player movement this past summer redistributed talent around the league, allowing at least a third of the league to talk itself into Finals berths.
Above that glut stand the Milwaukee Bucks. At 52-8 with a 12.1 Net Rating, they not only have the best record in the league, but are also on pace to win 71 games with historic efficiency. The Bucks are truly a well-oiled machine.
The engine for that machine is Giannis Antentokoumnpo, the league's reigning Most Valuable Player who has somehow gotten even better. In just 30.9 minutes per game (down from 32.8 last year), the Greek Freak is averaging 29.9 points (up from 27.7), 13.8 rebounds (up from 12.5) and 5.8 assists (5.9 last season).
As if those lines aren't gaudy enough, he also has a true shooting percentage of 61.3 on 19.9 shots a game. In addition, his player efficiency rating (PER) of 32.3 would be the best in league history.
Only one player before 2019-20 paced 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists on at least 61% true shooting: Giannis himself last season. He's uniquely dominant across the board while commandeering the best team in the league.
The only thing holding him back from winning the MVP unanimously is where he plays. Since Milwaukee is a small market compared to the rest of the league, Antentokoumnpo gets a lot less coverage than he probably deserves. Meanwhile Alex Caruso, a bench guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, gets oodles of exposure from mass media outlets.
This has brought the Lakers' best player, LeBron James, into the discussion. In year 17 (not a typo), James is averaging 25.5 points, 7.8 boards and 10.6 assists for the West's 1 seed. That assist mark currently leads the league, as does his 49.6% assist percentage (the proportion of made field goals that a player assists on while he's on the court). The King is back to his old ways of dominance, and as a result his team is in pole position to make a run to the Finals.
That being said, he's still not on Giannis' level. The Greek Freak beats James in virtually every category besides playmaking and shooting, the latter of which LeBron is only slightly better at.
Screenshot from Basketball Reference.
The one serious factor in James' favor is that the Lakers barely tread water when he sits, sporting an even net rating without him (0.1). Meanwhile the Bucks still outscore opponents by 6.1 points per 100 possessions without their superstar. But the swings are comparable: LeBron lifts the Lakers' net rating by 10.9, while Giannis improves the Bucks' figure by 11.4.
Other than that, it's all about the Greek Freak. He's the best player in the world right now, dominating every single night with production and ferocity that few ever reach. That he does so on a night to night basis is Hall of Fame stuff.
The Bucks are having one of the best seasons ever, led by someone putting up one of the best individual seasons ever. The only reason anyone else can be allowed to sniff him is because of the market he plays in.
All stats gathered from Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.