Wisconsin sports fans, consider yourselves lucky. First, a Green Bay Packer in Aaron Rodgers wins MVP. Then, Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers wins MVP. Last but not least, as of Monday, Milwaukee Bucks,’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, is the 2018-19 NBA MVP. It is the best time in history to be a Wisconsin sports fan and having 3 MVPs makes Wisconsin one of the most underrated great sports states.
The most recent Wisconsin MVP winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo, won the award Monday night by beating out other finalists, James Harden and Paul George when he received 78 out of the possible 101 first place votes. Giannis joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only Bucks’ players to win the NBA’s most prestigious award. Giannis also became the third youngest player to win the award in the last 40 years and he became the 5th player born outside of the USA to win MVP. Antetokounmpo led his team in points per game, assists, and rebounds, he was consistently the best player on the best team during the regular season.
When it comes to Antetokounmpo’s stats, here’s what they looked like. The Greek Freak played and started 72 games while averaging 27.7 points per game, which was the 3rd highest scoring average in the league. He scored at a very efficient rate considering his true shooting percentage was 64.4% which was 7th highest in basketball. The highest field goal attempts per game by the players in front of him was Clint Capela with 10.9. Giannis shot nearly 7 more times per game and may I add, the shots were much more difficult. The Freak didn’t just score the ball, he also distributed at an elite rate. His 5.9 assists per game was the same amount as All-Star point guard, Kemba Walker, and more than former MVP, Steph Curry. All of these numbers allowed Giannis to have an offensive rating per 100 possessions of 121.2 and 8.9 offensive win shares. The 8.9 win shares was good for 3rd in the entire NBA.
It’s almost impossible to believe, but Antetokounmpo was just as good on defense as he was on offense during the 2018-19 season. He averaged 12.5 rebounds per game which ended up being 6th in the league. Him and Russell Westbrook were the only non-centers to crack the top 10 in this category. By averaging over 25 points per game and 10 rebounds per game, Giannis joined Shaquille O’Neal as the only players to average those numbers since 1999 on the team with the best record in the NBA. Along with his defensive rebounding skills, Giannis was also an elite shot blocker, ranking in the top 10 for blocks per game. His defensive performance allowed him to have a defensive rating per 100 possessions of 99.4 which was second in the league only to Miami’s, Hassan Whiteside. The Greek Freak also had 5.5 defensive win shares which was third only to Andre Drummond and Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. When accumulating his offensive and defensive numbers, Antetokounmpo’s player efficiency rating came out to be 30.9 which was 1st in the NBA and the highest PER by an MVP since Steph Curry in 2015-16.
Giannis Antetokounmpo posted career highs in almost every single major statistical category in 2018-19. He also added career highs in points in a single game when he scored 52 against the Sixers and added a career high in rebounds when he grabbed 21 versus the Rockets. Giannis won Player of the Month 4 times and was voted to 1st Team All-NBA and 1st Team All-Defense. It only made sense that the final award he brought in for the 2018-19 season was the MVP. Now, I’m a lot classier than the Houston Rockets Twitter account, so I’m not going to say James Harden wasn’t a worthy candidate. He was, but Antetokounmpo’s impact on both sides of the ball propelled him to the top this season, therefore, Giannis was the rightful MVP.