After winning his first Most Valuable Player award in 2018/19, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has arguably been even better so far this season.
Despite playing just 30.9 minutes per game, his lowest mark since he was a rookie in 2013/14, Antetokounmpo is establishing new career highs in PPG (29.8) and RPG (12.8) to go along with 5.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 1.1 BPG.
Giannis has also managed to convert 55.0% of his field goal attempts even though he’s launching 5.1 threes per game, nearly double his previous career high. He’s hitting 32.5% of those outside attempts, which isn’t an above-average rate, but is an encouraging step forward for a player who had made 27.7% of his career three-point attempts entering the season.
Oh, and his Bucks posted a 35-6 record in the first half, putting them on pace for a 70-win season.
It all adds up to make Antetokounmpo the MVP frontrunner halfway through the 2019/20 campaign. NBA.com’s Sekou Smith has Giannis atop his MVP ladder, while Basketball-Reference’s model also views him as the favorite.
Still, we’ve still got 40+ games to play this season, and it’s not as if Antetokounmpo has left his competition in the dust.
James Harden is having another historic scoring season, with 37.7 PPG through 37 games. If the Rockets guard maintains that pace, it would be the fourth-highest scoring average in NBA history and the best single-season mark by anyone not named Wilt Chamberlain.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis each have strong MVP cases for the 33-7 Lakers. James’ impressive on/off-court splits, as well as his 25.5 PPG and league-leading 10.7 APG, might make him the better pick of the two.
Second-year Mavericks star Luka Doncic is also in the conversation, with a near-triple-double average through 35 games (29.1 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 9.0 APG) as his team exceeds preseason expectations and looks to secure a playoff spot.
While Antetokounmpo is putting up insane per-36 stats, it’s possible some voters will dock him for playing fewer minutes than other MVP candidates. He has appeared in 38 games to Harden’s 37 this season, but has logged 200 fewer minutes than the Rockets’ star. If that gap continues to widen by season’s end, with Giannis potentially getting some rest after Milwaukee secure the No. 1 seed, it could be a factor worth considering in the MVP race.
Still, for now, Giannis looks like the odds-on favorite to be named the NBA’s 2019/20 MVP. What do you think? Will he finish strong and win the award for a second consecutive year?
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