He won the NBA regular season MVP award in 2019 and 2020, the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020, and a year ago he won his first championship and Finals MVP award.
Although Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic has won the last two regular season MVPs, many regard Antetokounmpo as the better player, if not the best player in the game.
Last summer, coming off winning his first world title, the Greek Freak was certainly being considered the best player in the world.
But this past season, that status took a bit of a hit, as the Bucks lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
This coming season, Antetokounmpo has the opportunity to not only remind everyone that he’s still the best, but to also re-establish the Bucks as the best team in basketball.
It Wasn’t Antetokounmpo’s Fault The Bucks Didn’t Repeat As Champs
Coming into the 2021-22 season, many were picking the Brooklyn Nets to win the East and win it all, but the consensus was that the Bucks also had a real shot.
They flew under the radar for much of the schedule, but after a somewhat slow start, they started to pick up steam, and they finished with the third seed in the conference.
Unfortunately, Khris Middleton, Milwaukee’s second-best player, suffered a sprained MCL in the first round of the playoffs, and without him, it was up against it versus the Celtics.
Antetokounmpo looked to carry his squad regardless, and after he had dominant performances in Game 3 and Game 5, the Bucks went up in the series, 3-2.
GIANNIS TOLD THE CELTICS TO HIT THE WEIGHT ROOM 💪 pic.twitter.com/XS0y8q38pZ
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 7, 2022
He had 44 points in Game 6 as his team looked to close things out, along with 20 rebounds and six assists, and it was the third time in the series he had at least 40 points.
But the Bucks as a whole were cold offensively and lost to the Celtics, 108-95, and with Antetokounmpo flaming out in Game 7, the Bucks went down by 28 points.
In a purely objective sense, Antetokounmpo is likely still the best player in basketball, but perception matters, and a player’s perception as far as how high he ranks is often inextricably linked to how well his team performs, especially in the playoffs.
The Bucks Are One Of The Favorites To Win The 2023 NBA Championship
Milwaukee may not be the favorite to win the world championship this coming season, but it is in the mix.
Already thinking about next season 🙏
An early look at the 2023 NBA Championship odds: pic.twitter.com/6CBn2ebXKz
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) June 17, 2022
Although the Celtics have improved by possibly finding their missing pieces in point guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Danilo Gallinari, there is a strong argument that at least as of now, the Bucks are still the best team in the East.
With Middleton back, they have a core that has won it all, and its players should be hungry following the team’s playoff elimination in May.
Boston hasn’t proven it can win a thing yet, and its superstar, Jayson Tatum, still hasn’t proven he can play at the highest level on a consistent basis.
It’s something Antetokounmpo has already proven, and these days, he plays with the swagger of a man who knows he’s the best and can do whatever he wants on the court.