Buying or Selling on Giannis Antetokounmpo?

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Updated: October 11, 2021
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It was only a few months back that Giannis Antetokounmpo was on the James Harden MVP blacklist. Barred from another nomination until his regular-season production proved itself to be relevant in the playoffs, he could’ve averaged 25, 14, and 9 and still been slotted as the runner-up for most valuable player by the analysts around the league. But obviously, all that has changed. Not only did the Bucks win the title and Giannis win Finals MVP, but he conquered his demons at the free-throw line in a way the likes of Shaq never did, going 17 for 19 in the series decider. From game 3 onward, there were zero questions of who the most dominating force was in the Finals, and he did it without a jumper in the modern era.

All that said, these playoffs have been labeled by some as an asterisk season…with the Lakers out with injuries, the Nets completely hobbled, and the Warriors in hiatus, two teams that no one expected to be there at the end matched up for the Championship. Well, all the shade cast down on Milwaukee in some ways appears to have come as a blessing in disguise, because Antetokounmpo’s first game back yesterday looked as if he was unaware it was an exhibition. Scoring the first 6 buckets for the Bucks all at the rim, Giannis looks even more unstoppable than he did before. When he got hit on the right hand and was noticeably uncomfortable, he showed off two on-point passes with his left for a pair of assists.

So, the question is, should we be buying stock on Giannis Antetokounmpo and his upcoming playoff push? Considering that most of the league has slotted Durant as the new king of the East and crowned the Nets as the overwhelming favorites to make it to the Finals…absolutely. For MVP, Giannis has a clear advantage over most of the superstars in this league because Bud’s Bucks only have 1 gear in Milwaukee and that’s all the way on. The Bucks have put up historic advanced metrics these last two regular seasons and yet, due to their shortcomings in the playoffs, they have been mostly dismissed. Giannis being the best player on the best team wasn’t going to be enough to win a 3rd MVP until he showed in the postseason, just like Harden after his MVP and flameout in the playoffs.

Well, barring injury, the Bucks are going to be the number 1 seed not only in the East but head into the playoffs with the best record in the NBA. Giannis will most likely go back to his 30 minutes a game and maybe his numbers aren’t enough to take the regular season MVP, but for his stock, as long as he’s in the conversation and a portion of the media sees him as the most valuable player that’s enough for his higher purpose.

In order for Antetokounmpo to silence the haters and brush away the shade from the big market stars in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Giannis must make the Finals this season. If they lose in a 6 or 7 game series there at the end, he will still most likely still be seen as the best player on the planet. However, if he gets knocked out by any team in the East, it will significantly diminish the value of the recent title.

Why buy stock on such high expectations? Because Giannis is well-aware of all of this and is coming for the throats of anyone in his way. He has one and only goal and has clearly been pushing his body to the limits this offseason despite the knee injury. He doesn’t care about being the face of the league, his 2k score, or the validation of his peers, Giannis wants to go down in history as an all-time great. And he knows, just like we do, the only bridge to that exclusive island is multiple titles. With the weight off their shoulders by already collecting the first, Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday all look poised with confidence, yet thirsty for more.

With his unique skill set that varies tremendously from the Durants and Stephs of the world, it is always hard to compare Giannis to the rest of the top 5 in basketball. But one thing will be crystal clear by the end of this season, that Antetokounmpo’s impact makes him as dominant as any pure shooter in the league.

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