Giannis Antetokounmpo Will Win the NBA MVP
Margaret Maloney ’23
This year’s NBA MVP will be Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo was the fifteenth pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft to the Milwaukee Bucks and has been with the Bucks ever since. He was drafted when he was 19 and never attended college. In his 2016-2017 season, he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top twenty in all five statistics of total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He received the Most Improved Player award in 2017. Antetokounmpo has received six All-Star selections, including being selected as an All-Star captain in 2019 and 2020. He led the Eastern Conference in voting these two years.
Antetokounmpo also won consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player awards in 2019 and 2020. This allowed Antetokounmpo to join legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as one of the only players to win two MVPs before turning 26. In addition to his outstanding MVP award, he was also named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. This allowed him to become only the third player after Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon to win both awards in the same season. To add to Antetokounmpo’s success, in 2021, he led the Bucks to their first NBA championship since 1971 and was named the finals MVP. Also in 2021, he was honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Some other players who are in the running are Nikola Jokić with the Denver Nuggets and Joel Embiid with the Philadelphia 76ers. While these are both great players in great franchises, it is believed that Giannis Antetokounmpo has the edge because of his success with the Bucks and how far he has taken the team, especially since he has been with the Bucks since 2013. The Bucks have been improving every year and are now a hot team to be watching in the league. Antetokounmpo is a team leader who loves his team and wants the franchise to succeed like they never have before. He has earned the respect from his fellow players and coaches.
Additionally, Giannis Antetokounmpo has earned the nickname of “Greek Freak” because of his original home of Athens, Greece and his tremendous size, strength, speed, and ball-handling skills. It is going to be an exciting season watching Antetokounmpo achieve even more than what anyone knew he was capable of. After the Bucks won the finals in 2021, Antetokounmpo said in an interview, “I love playing in the playoffs. I love playing in the Finals. These are the moments I want to chase. I want the team to build off of this, and hopefully we can do it again.”
Luka Doncic Will Win This Season’s NBA MVP
Joseph Quirk ’23
Over the course of the past few seasons, Luka Doncic has been one of the preseason favorites to win the NBA MVP award each season, but this is going to be the year that Doncic does it.
For starters, the status of MVP usually is awarded to one of the best players on one of the best teams. Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks finished as the 4th seed in a loaded Western Conference last season and may have an opportunity to finish the same or better this season. The West has seen teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz get significantly worse. While the Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten better and the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and New Orleans Pelicans have gotten healthier, all those teams still have significant question marks that may hinder their success.
Doncic is also the only player on his team who has been on an All-NBA team and an All-Star, meaning Doncic will be in control of the scoring, more so than he has been asked to in previous seasons. While Doncic may score the ball a ton, his passing will elevate his MVP case. While Doncic may not have many other reliable shot creators on the roster, that does not mean that the roster is deprived of talent. The Mavericks have a host of versatile players that range from athletic centers and forwards who can be lob threats, to sharp shooting guards and wings. Doncic, who may be a more gifted passer than he is a scorer, will thrive with the spacing and passing options available to him on this roster.
Doncic will also have other teammates to keep pressure off him. The Mavericks have a multitude of good wing and big-man defenders to take defensive pressure off Doncic. Guard Spencer Dinwiddie can also take some offensive pressure off him as well if the offense begins to stall.
Maybe Doncic’s greatest advantage in the hunt for his first MVP award, however, is his consistent ability to stay on the floor. The most games Doncic has missed in a season is 21, however that was in the 2019-2020 season. Last season he did miss 17 games, but that was the second most of his career. Generally, Doncic is reliable to stay on the court.
He is also reliable in big, clutch moments too. A big part of the MVP voting process is a player’s story. While Doncic, a European phenom as a child, has a great story already, his ability to make big plays and single handedly win games in big moments will certainly wow voters.