Giannis Antetokounmpo has just added another accolade in his short but decorated career. The 25-year-old player from Greece has been named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, his second win thus far.
In a sports year that became anything but predictable, you can always count on Lakers fans finding something to be up-in-arms about on Twitter. Their star player LeBron James was a finalist for the award alongside Giannis. The Voting Rights and Taco Tuesday devotee led the Lakers to a number one seed in the more competitive Western Conference, and his team didn’t get blown out in the playoffs by a 5th seeded underdog.
But let’s be clear…Giannis earned his second consecutive award. After all, MVP is awarded to the regular season’s best player, and nobody played more consistently than Antetokounmpo. Here’s a quick stat breakdown between the nominees (stats via NBA.com).
Games Played 63, Points Per Game 29.5, Rebounds 13.6, Assists 5.6
Games Played 67, Points Per Game 25.3, Rebounds 7.8, Assists 10.2
Games Played 68, Points Per Game 34.3, Rebounds 6.6, Assists 7.5
Going off these layman stats, one could derive that Giannis dominated the paint, Harden’s a ball hog, and James got his team the most involved. That’s not entirely untrue, but it’s not a great measure of one’s overall game.
When it comes to the galaxy-brained efficiency rating stat (measured by pts+reb+ast+stl+blk-missed shots and turnovers), Giannis comes out the clear winner. He scored an NBA best EFF rating of 34.6, while the other two nominees James Harden (32.6) and LeBron James (29.6) placed second and fifth respectively. Giannis also dominated defensively, becoming one of three players to ever win both Defensive Player of the Year and MVP in the same season.
If you were to mention EFF to Lakers fans the Earth’s days would become shorter from the collective eye roll. Kobe Bryant posted some of the league’s worst EFF scores towards the end of his career. It’s not the end-all stat, but it works well on a season to season basis. However, LeBron James is ranked 2nd all-time in EFF, trailing only Michael Jordan.
LeBron, while not the MVP, is still perhaps the most important player in basketball with the opportunity to win it all in his 16th season. The Finals MVP is still up for grabs, which we speculate Giannis would gladly trade for any regular-season award.