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. Considering those circumstances, individual honors are likely the furthest thing from anyone’s mind.
But it is awards season, and ahead of Friday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Giannis has been named NBA MVP for the second straight season, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and later confirmed by the league. He’s the first player since Steph Curry in 2015 and 2016 to go back-to-back, and the 11th all-time to accomplish that feat. Antetokounmpo beat out James Harden of the Rockets and LeBron James of the Lakers for the award.
Aided by the arrival of Mike Budenholzer and his five-out system, Giannis took his game to new heights last season. Then, somehow, he played even better. He put up 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds — both career-highs — 5.6 assists, and a steal and a block per game.
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.
But as impressive as that is, there’s another trophy that Giannis is eager to add to his collection. To get it, he’ll need to lead the Bucks to a comeback worthy of an MVP.