The Bucks of Milwaukee are currently 5th on the Eastern Conference standings and the main reason for this is the play of rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Forget that his name looks like the result of someone typing on a keyboard with their eyes closed, the Greek Freak leads his team in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks. The last player to lead his team in these categories was LeBron James back in the ’08-09 season for the Cavs. The Cavs finished 66-16 for the regular season and LBJ just happened to win his first MVP award.
Now, I’m not saying Giannis will win the MVP award this season, especially with the year guys like James Harden and Russell Westbrook are having, but the young Buck deserves to be recognized among the best in the league.
The Bucks are a team many think of simply for their wingspan. But let’s run down this youthful team. Jabari Parker, Giannis’ partner-in-crime, is looking to have that break out season this year. Greg Monroe has been underwhelming ever since he arrived in Milwaukee. Kris Middleton is out for the majority of the season due to injury. Matthew Dellavedova is there. Thon Maker is a rookie with potential but needs developing. Michael Carter-Williams is now on the Bulls. Antetokounmpo has put this team on his back and led them to a solid position on the Eastern Conference standings. He’s led them to wins over the Bulls, Pacers, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers and Cavs.
Let’s break down Giannis. He was the 15th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. You know, the one where Anthony Bennett went #1 overall. Giannis wasn’t even a lottery pick! That’s what’s amazing about this kid’s rise. He recorded his 7th career triple-double last night against the Portland Trail Blazers, putting up 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He also had 4 blocks just for good measure. His 7 triple-doubles puts him 2nd on the Bucks all-time triple-double list, just one behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Since last year’s All-Star break, Russell Westbrook has recorded the most triple-doubles (21). Second? That would be Mr Antetokounmpo (7). The Freak at this point in the season has 2.2 SPG and 2.3 BPG. The list of guys to average 2 SPG and 2 BPG in a single season reads: David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Gerald Wallace. Giannis is currently in his 4th season in the NBA. When comparing his current 4th season to Kevin Durant and LeBron, he’s averaging more rebounds, steals and blocks and has a better field goal percentage than the two former MVPs. Now, it’s a small sample size considering only a quarter of the season’s been played, but it just goes to show the ceiling he has in this league.
So why isn’t he getting any love? Why isn’t the Greek Freak being regarded among the best in the league? His coach Jason Kidd seems to have a theory, believing his ‘hard to pronounce’ surname is preventing him from stardom. But in all seriousness, Giannis deserves to be an All-Star this season and even in the conversation for MVP. On a team where no one is doing much, a 22-year old Freak is taking over Milwaukee. And very soon, he’s going to take over the NBA. Someone just needs to take notice.