Giannis Antetokounmpo has started the NBA season looking like a legit MVP candidate but is it safe to put him in the same sentence as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant? Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver discuss Antetokounmpo’s rise and answer if he has joined the league’s elite on the most recent episode of Open Floor.
Sharp: The second overreaction was ‘Giannis was winning MVP this year,’ explain yourself.
Golliver: I don’t think I’m going to go that far because I don’t think they’re going to win enough this year to keep him in that conversation. But he looked exactly like how you wanted him to look. Like we talked about him potentially looking over the summer. (He was) easily the driving influence of that game. He really had the Celtics commentators at a loss for words, comparing him to LeBron in the open court, taking contact, going through traffic and finding himself at the rim in all sorts of creative ways.
Nice toolbox of moves. It was just a Tour de Force. I think you need to get back on this Bucks bandwagon. I don’t know exactly why you fleed, or why you wanted to be counter to the Bucks’ entertainment factor, but Khris Middleton had a pretty nice game too, which is always nice to see. It doesn’t look like a ragtag group. Like obviously Giannis is clearly their best player by a lot, but it didn’t look like he was playing with scraps last night and I think they came out really well in that environment and I’m just in on the Bucks. I think they’ll be a really fun team to watch. I think 50 wins, that was one of my predictions before the season, and I’m feeling good about it.
Sharp: OK, well if you won’t say it, Brad Stevens was the one who came out and said, “GiannisAntetokounmpo looks like he belongs in the MVP conversation’ after that game. You might be right on the Bucks. That might have been a case of us having too much time over the summer to think about things and I might have overthought a little bit. Because Giannis could be incredible enough to render all of their weakness kind of irrelevant until they get to the elite level of the league. I mean I was watching highlights—I didn’t get to see that game live but I saw the 10-minute highlight package this morning—and the Celtics, they have good long athletes to throw at him, they just had zero answer. Like no matter what they tried, nothing was working. So I was watching that and I started thinking, I don’t know what team ever would have someone that they could throw on Giannis to incredibly slow him down and that to me …
Golliver: San Antonio Spurs with Kawhi Leonard. That’s it.
Sharp: Yeah that’s it. Kawhi might be it. Like LeBron locked in in a playoff series and it was all he could do and that’s a category, like a very small category. There are maybe four or five players in the NBA who just render defenses completely irrelevant. Like you’ve got LeBron, Steph, Durant is like that and maybe Harden but Giannis is in that group but that’s it man.
Golliver: Like he was in the top 10 of SI’s top 100, almost like we know what we’re talking about. What I’d say about Giannis in the interest of full disclosure is that I did predict he was going to come back this season with a 3-point shot and you started calling me crazy when I made that bold prediction early this summer. He only took one 3 last night and didn’t make it. It was pretty hesitant and it didn’t look like he even wanted to shoot it. But it’s amazing how much success they had offensively against Boston without that weapon in his arsenal and without his team shooting well either. There is going to be tougher times for Milwaukee if they can’t figure out 3-point stuff. Like they’re going to have to figure out something consistently with that and they need to be setting up their 3-point shooters with drive-and-kick stuff more regularly than he did last night. But his ability to get to the rim and get to the line basically against anyone helps compensate that in a big time way.
Sharp: Well exactly. I go back to a conversation I had with an NBA scout once, before a draft. And I forget who it was who was being compared to Giannis and the scout was basically like ‘No one should ever be compared to Giannis’ because he is so long that he is able to make up for deficiencies that other guys would have no chance—oh it was Ben Simmons, we were talking about Ben Simmons. Giannis is just so much longer that shots within 10 or 15 feet are just so much easier for him than they would be for anyone else in the NBA and he’s just got a clear line of vision to the rim, no matter where he is. And so I think that is what ultimately allows him to get away with the threat of being a shooter because he can just score over literally anyone in the league.
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