The 2020s Belong to Giannis Antetokounmpo
As the 2010s come to a close, we say goodbye to the Golden State Warriors dynasty and the unbelievable dominance of LeBron James and his eight straight Finals appearances. A new era of NBA basketball has arrived.
Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t just set to repeat as NBA MVP; forget simply contending for the title this year. The 2020s have arrived, and they belong to the Greek Freak.
This writing comes on the heels of a full-blown Bucks shellacking of the Los Angeles Lakers. Milwaukee held LA to just 46 first half points, and Antetokounmpo was a revelation. Giannis 34 points, grabbed eleven rebounds, and hit a career-best five threes. He was emphatically aware of the moment.
Giannis isn’t usurping King James, per say. But we haven’t seen pure domination of this order since LeBron was in his prime.
To that end, the Greek Freak is only 25 years old. He might actually get a bit better in the coming years. His athleticism and scoring around the rim is hauntingly effective, but like a young LeBron, his post game and outside shooting have room to improve.
Against the Lakers he was looking confident taking shots from deep, and from the look on his face, it seems clear he understands just how scary that ought to be for the rest of the league.
The Light of the World
Perhaps the most perplexing part of Antetokounmpo’s dominance this season is how quickly he can pummel a team. To take nothing away from the rest of the Bucks and their 70-win pace, Giannis is averaging just 31.3 minutes per game.
Look at Giannis’ per-36 numbers: 36.4 points, 14.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.4 steals. It took Michael F-ing Jordan nearly 40 minutes a night to put up numbers even remotely close to this.
Antetokounmpo is up to a reasonable 33.8 percent from three on north of five attempts per game. Meanwhile, he’s shooting a hilarious 64 percent on twos. If this three-point shooting holds, forget it.
Giannis has struggled from the free throw line. Like any Greek demi-god, he has his weaknesses. At the end of the day, however, we may truly be in uncharted waters when it comes to Antetokounmpo.
Not five, not six, not seven.
The most important currency in the NBA is, and always has been, rings. Until Giannis hoists the Larry OB, all of the above comes with an asterisk.
The 2020s will be dominated by a few other superstars. The coming decade will see the Greek Freak going to war with the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic, and yes, the Washed King LeBron James.
At this point, however, the ball is in Giannis’ court. As the new decade approaches, Giannis is unapologetically the best player in the world. And once he is able to maintain that through June, a new era will truly be upon us.