18 September 2020 16:44

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has won his second consecutive NBA MVP award, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo wins second straight NBA MVP award

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks had a tough time in their second-round series against the Miami Heat as Jimmy Butler and Co., who were able to dispatch the top-seeded team in the East in five games. But it is awards season, and ahead of Friday's Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Giannis will be named NBA MVP for the second straight season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Along the way, he led the Bucks to a 53-12 record prior to the season being put on hold, and at one point had them chasing the vaunted 70-win club. With Giannis leading the way, Milwaukee was tied for seventh in offense, and led the league in defense by a wide margin, limiting opponents to 102.5 points per 100 possessions. For his efforts on that end of the floor, Giannis was also named Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career.

With confirmation of his MVP Award, he's now just the third player ever to take home both of those trophies in the same year, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. Milwaukee Bucks PF Giannis Antetokounmpo will take home his second straight MVP award, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday morning. Giannis will win MVP ahead of LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Harden is the last player other than Giannis to win MVP. LeBron won four MVP awards from 2008-2013, two with the Miami Heat and two with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He is second behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most MVP awards by a Bucks player. Giannis is also the third player to win both Defensive Player of the Year and MVP in the same season, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. Lakers star LeBron James had an incredible year, and was a deserving MVP candidate in 2020. If you go back to last summer, that was not a sentence many people thought we'd be typing this season, especially considering that James appeared to have some help on the way in the form of Anthony Davis, and that given his age (35) and that he sustained the first serious injury of his career last year, he seemed primed to take a step back and load manage a bit this season. James did the exact opposite, playing in 67 of the Lakers' 71 regular season games, and averaging 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and leading the league with a career-high 10.2 assists per game in his first season ever actually starting at point guard.

He was the engine of everything the Lakers do well offensively, has quarterbacked their defense with his unparalleled basketball intelligence and the team was 10.4 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the floor, which was roughly the difference between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets. Still, it was not enough for voters, who still chose Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo for the MVP award, his second win in a row: Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo has won his second consecutive MVP award, sources tell ESPN. The league will officially announce the award (and the voting tallies) later today, but James finishing second is a bit of a foregone conclusion based on public ballots, to the point that I feel comfortable publishing this now that Giannis winning is reportedly official (we will updated with the exact count when that is revealed at 11:00 a.m. PT). The fact that James lost out to Antetokounmpo in the final vote for the award is hardly an indictment of him, and simply a testament to how incredible the Defensive Player of the Year was on both ends of the floor during the regular season (which this award is based on). And despite the Bucks' embarrassing playoff flameout, Giannis is a completely deserving winner for the regular season, who was slightly better than James in most meaningful counting stats — besides assists and 3-point shooting — whose team had a better record, and who was a more impactful player on the defensive end (despite James' excellent effort on that end this season) leading up until the playoffs.

Maybe all of this can point to a flaw in this process (it rewards regular season success, which is almost a completely different sport at this point) and doesn't value that yes, everyone knows that for one game they'd still rather have James, but until the voting process is altered in some way, these are the types of wins that are going to keep happening. The difficult year James led the Lakers through, and the buy-in and cohesion he quickly developed for a team that had mostly never played together before this summer was incredible, as was the leadership he showed during all of the tough times the Lakers went through this season. Had the year not been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, it is entirely possible that given the way he was ramping up, he could have caught Antetokounmpo for the award in the regular season. And hey, if he leads the Lakers to a Finals victory and wins the MVP award for that series, we'll all know who the better player still is. Smith explains why LeBron James should have won the MVP award over Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has won his second consecutive NBA MVP award, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Antetokounmpo joins Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as back-to-back MVPs. Antetokounmpo joins Jordan (1987-88 season) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94 season) as the only players to win the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. "Please, after this day don't call me MVP until I win it again next year," he asked. Although Milwaukee fell short of a title, he returned to average 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists this season. Antetokounmpo has a decision to make in the offseason about signing an extension with Milwaukee or entering the 2020-21 season in the final year of his contract, making him eligible for free agency in 2021. Despite finishing with the best record during the regular season, Milwaukee failed to reach the Finals after losing in five games to the Miami Heat during the Eastern Conference semifinals. Although it was a disappointing finish to an incredible season, Antetokounmpo posted a 31.9 player efficiency rating--which was the highest in a season in NBA history, per ESPN Stats & Information research. "At the end of the day, we've got to learn from everything that goes on in your life and in your career," Antetokounmpo said following the Game 5 loss, which he missed with an ankle sprain. NBA fans will probably look back at this middle part of Giannis Antetokounmpo's career with intrigue when he finally wins a championship. Things around Giannis will certainly change between now and then, but the past two years have shown that ultimately, Giannis Antetokounmpo, for all his brilliance, needs to keep improving for the Bucks to become champions. There's more fun in imagining the system a new coach might run or what type of Eric Bledsoe trade could put the Bucks over the top, but Giannis is arcing up the same learning curve many NBA stars have traversed over time. LeBron James had to round out his offensive game as a shooter and post play-maker before becoming a champion. Those turnovers were most often created because the Bucks deployed Brook Lopez as a deterrent at the rim and let their wings fly around the court, because that's what Giannis is best at. Giannis clearly learned a few lessons from the Raptors' suffocating six-game dismantling of Milwaukee last year, as he was more comfortable launching from three and more aggressive creating his own shot against Miami, but one thing was unchanged. To be fair, the Heat in particular were a difficult matchup for Giannis and the Bucks because of Bam Adebayo, one of the only players in the NBA capable of matching Giannis' length and athleticism.