Milwaukee Bucks 2019-20 Team Awards
Up until the suspension of the NBA season, the Milwaukee Bucks were enjoying one of their best years in franchise history. Coming off a 60-win season which ended up just two wins short of the NBA Finals, the Bucks began this season with their foot on the gas, and they never let up, jumping out to a 53-12 record by mid-March.
They are obviously led by their star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, but what many overlook is how deep this roster truly is. The Bucks received contributions from many different players this year and may have the deepest team in the association. With the majority of the regular season completed, it is time to look back on the year that has been for the Bucks, and hand out some team awards.
Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Bucks may have a deep roster, but there is no way you could put anyone else in this spot. The reigning league MVP from last season, Giannis has a good chance at becoming a back-to-back winner of the award. While the Bucks have just 12 losses all season, three of them came without the Greek Freak in the lineup. Fans may forget that going into the season suspension, the Bucks lost three straight games, the last two of which Giannis was inactive due to a knee injury.
The Greek Freak has built on last year’s MVP campaign by averaging a career-high 29.6 points per game. He is also up to an average of 13.7 rebounds, and his defense continues to be exceptional, which we’ll get into in just a bit. Maybe the best improvement of Giannis’s game is his three-point shooting, where he is now at 30% while averaging over two more attempts than at any other point in his career. Giannis may be the best player in the game right now, and without him, the Bucks would be nowhere near the best team in the NBA.
Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Guys like Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez certainly have a case for this award. But Giannis is just elite. He gets most of his notoriety and love for his highlight reel offensive game, but the Greek Freak is an exceptional defensive player in this league. Obviously, the size and length only help, but Giannis is capable of shutting down his man while saving his team with his help defense.
While his steal and block averages per game are actually down, Giannis still has a defensive rating of 96.5. For the second consecutive year, the Bucks are number one overall in defensive rating, and it is in large part due to the MVP. Anyone who can make plays like this has to be defensive player of the year on his team.
Sixth Man of the Year: George Hill
The Bucks don’t necessarily have a true sixth man, but the best and most reliable player coming off the pine for Mike Budenholzer has been veteran George Hill. The guard has been around the association for over a decade, going back to his Spurs days playing for Budenholzer while he was an assistant coach there. Hill obviously brings great experience to this locker room, but his play this year has been impressive off the bench.
Per 36 minutes, Hill is averaging over 16 points per game, his best mark since the 2016-17 season. Hill also averages a respectable five rebounds and five assists per 36 minutes. But where he has really shined for the team is behind the arc, where he is shooting a career-high 48% from three-point range. That is the perfect mix in Coach Bud’s system, and he has arguably been the team’s most reliable shooter throughout the year. Hill continuing his solid play will be key to whether or not the Bucks bring home a championship when all is said and done this year.
Rookie of the Year: None
The Bucks did select Kevin Porter Jr. with the 30th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but soon traded him to the Cavaliers. As a result, they had no true rookie on the roster this year. The team has had some newcomers this season like Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Marvin Williams, but nobody who wasn’t on last year’s 60-win roster has made much of an impact.
Most Improved Player: Donte DiVincenzo
In his rookie year, DiVincenzo played just 27 games in what was an injury-riddled campaign. But the Villanova product is young with undeniable talent, and it was showing through this year. DiVincenzo had already doubled the number of games he played from last year before the suspension of the NBA season, and drew several spot starts whenever the Bucks had injuries.
DiVincenzo is an underrated athlete, but it is also clear he has acclimated to the speed of the NBA game this year. The second-year wing has averaged an impressive 14.6 points per 36 minutes off the bench, and even more impressive may be his average of nearly 10 rebounds per 100 possessions.
Although the Bucks would like to see his 34% three-point shooting grow closer to a 40% clip, DiVincenzo has still been a scoring impact off the bench. It is a welcome site for the Bucks front office and fans alike to see the Big Ragu go from looking like a bust last year to now looking like a potential core player for years to come after this season.
Statistics Courtesy of Basketball Reference