The NBA MVP race is stacked with many superstars such as reigning award winner Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, LeBron James, Luka Doncic and Anthony Davis. But will Giannis run away with the award? The Crossover staff make their midseason MVP picks.
Rohan Nadkarni - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Nothing has really changed since I named Giannis my quarter-season MVP (as well as Defensive Player of the Year for good measure.) The Bucks are still far and away the best team in the NBA, with wins over their biggest competition—the Lakers and a mostly full-strength Clippers squad. Milwaukee has throttled opponents, and Giannis has been an absolute force on both ends of the court. His counting stats would probably be higher if not for the fact that he’s leading blowout win after blowout win. And he’s also toying with a three-point shot that can only pay dividends come playoff time. Meanwhile, The Greek Freak isn’t playing with a second true superstar like some of his contemporaries. Antetokounmpo is clearly the biggest catalyst in Milwaukee’s top-tier success, and the gap between the Bucks and everyone else gives him the edge over guys like Harden and Doncic.
Long story short: Giannis has been an even better player the season after his first MVP, on a team that’s performing better than it’s league-leading pace from a year ago despite losing a key rotation player (Malcolm Brogdon) in the offseason. This doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.
Jeremy Woo - Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Bucks wouldn’t contend without him, they’ve been the class of the league, and while it’s not clear cut, he’s on his way to earning it all over again. The quality of this race speaks to the state of the NBA product, but Antetokounmpo has earned this until further notice. This feels far from decided, but he’s my pick.
Michael Shapiro - Giannis Antetokounmpo
James Harden’s scoring binge has been historic, though it’s hard to pick anyone other than Giannis Antetokounmpo at this point. The Bucks are the best team in basketball, and Antetokounmpo‘a 29-12-5 stat line has not been reached by any player since 1966. It’s unlikely anyone other than Giannis snags the MVP if the Bucks secure the No. 1 seed in the East.
Elizabeth Swinton - Giannis Antetokounmpo
“Please, after this day, don’t call me MVP until I win it again next year.”
After Giannis Antetokounmpo won MVP for the 2018-19 season, he made it his immediate goal to win it again the following year. Six months later, the Bucks’ leading scorer is on track to do just that. The Greek Freak’s 29.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game have led Milwaukee to a league-best 35-6 record and has set the team apart from the rest of the East. The Bucks lead the league with +12.3 average scoring margin, while Antetokounmpo’s production ranks second behind his increased shooting range. Compared to other MVP candidates, Antetokounmpo has had to shoulder more than most without another superstar, yet he continues to make his teammates better and the Bucks keep on winning. He says not to call him MVP, so we won’t just yet—but he stands out amongst his competition at the halfway point to repeat.
Ben Pickman - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Through 41 games, Antetokoumpo is averaging nearly a point per minute played. Last year's league MVP has shown flashes of an improved three-point shot, taking almost twice as many attempts per game as he did in 2018-19. Milwaukee has the league's best record and entering Monday night is seven games up on the Eastern Conference's next best teams. The Bucks have won 21 games by 10 or more points, winning by double-digits in more than 50% of their games thus far. Antetokounmpo is reason number one, two and three that so few games are close. His numbers would look even more impressive than they already are if the Bucks weren't blowing their opponents out.