The Lakers have the look of a true contender with LeBron and All-Star big man Anthony Davis joining forces to become the league’s most dynamic duo. Serving as the ideal mentor for young(er) point guards Dennis Schroder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, he lead a surprising playoff push in OKC. And the last three times LeBron has changed teams, he's delivered a title within two seasons. Jokic already has a first-team All-NBA nod on his resume was curiously omitted from MVP conversations last year. However, the 2020 playoffs offered small reminders that stylistic preferences are reactionary. It seems fair to assume that the closer the Bucks come to winning it all, the better their chances at retaining Giannis will be. Bledsoe then “puts the speed on” to collapse the defense, and the ball eventually finds Antetokounmpo for another one of those 434 restricted area buckets. We should probably add De'Aaron Fox to that list as well. LeBron wins this season’s narrative award.

Get used to seeing budding stars like Nikola Jokic, Pascal Siakam and Jayson Tatum on MVP lists for the foreseeable future. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. Philadelphia also announced that GM Elton Brand has signed a multi-year contract extension. The only real knock on Harden, aside from his situational indifference on defense, is that he’s struggled to carry his regular-season brilliance into the playoffs.

This trio represents a wave of 25-and-under superstars who aren’t about to wait for their elders to step aside so they can shine. Last season, Paul George finished third in the voting while playing alongside a former MVP in Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Post-ups aren’t very popular these days, but the Bucks will run plays to get Antetokounmpo the ball on the block (he prefers the left block) several times a game. All of the unknowns—the draft and the more immediate set of free agents—make prognosticating next year's free agency difficult. A simple high screen from Brook Lopez allows Antetokounmpo to attack a … James’ crew beat Antetokounmpo’s Bucks on a Friday night and Leonard’s Clippers on a Sunday afternoon.). Number to know: The Bucks are the only team that hasn’t had a rookie play for them this season. Unlikely as James leaving the Lakers seems, nothing is impossible.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George aren't the cornerstones for a dynasty. “Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James, I do believe that he should be the MVP this year,” Vogel said earlier this week on a Zoom call with reporters. 19.
Want every headline right at your fingertips? “I believe he should be the MVP and I believe Anthony Davis should be the Defensive Player of the Year. We’re the third best defense in the NBA, best in the West and a lot of that comes from his commitment this season, which has been greater than the last few years from what I’m told, has really set us apart in terms of being the best record currently in the Western Conference.”, Vogel’s loyalty is as admirable as his comments were predictable. 29 pick Derrick White will play well enough to warrant max or near-max compensation by the time 2021 free agency rolls around. Antetokounmpo's potential 2021 free agency had an impact on how teams operated this past season, how they'll spend in the coming weeks, the decisions they'll make during the 2020-21 campaign and, of course, next offseason. These three veteran stars showed why they belong in the mix. Play 2. Number to know: Antetokounmpo has shot 65.7% in the paint and has an effective field goal percentage of 43.7% on shots from outside the paint. He has three runner-up finishes (2015, ’17 and ’19) and won award in 2017-18. “And then obviously what he’s able to do on the basketball court, orchestrating the offense, leading the league in assists and really setting the tone on the defensive end. 3.

Paul didn’t miss a beat with the Thunder, though. They’re all franchise players for teams that will be contenders in the coming seasons.

On this play, Enes Kanter sees the play and is there for help, but loses a wrestling match for the ball and fouls the MVP. That brings us back to the nearly five months between actual games this season — an eternity that gave plenty of time to deliberate about the merits of each candidate for the league’s most prestigious individual (regular-season) award. shown himself to be an extraordinary playmaker. Number to know: With the departure of Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks have seen the biggest drop in drives per game, from 48.5 (seventh) last season to 38.8 (28th) this season. On an after-timeout play that initially looks a lot like the Bucks’ favorite sideline out of bounds play, Antetokounmpo catches the ball outside, but then gives it back to Eric Bledsoe and runs off two back-screens to a post-up on the right block. That’s the highest on-court NetRtg mark among 308 two-man combinations that have played at least 750 minutes together. Play 3. So while we still have the 2020 draft, this offseason's free agency and an entire season to play before considering the loaded 2021 free-agent class, well...it doesn't feel so wrong to look that far ahead when the league's pace seems stuck on overdrive. It should be the expectation. But he’s a willing and active screener, and using him as a roll man can force a defense into some tough situations. Once again, he could end up in the top three of the 2019-20 voting. Frozen in place for four and a half months. The 29.7% he’s shot on catch-and-shoot 3s is the third worst mark among 67 players who’ve attempted at least 200. Antetokounmpo’s combination of size and skills allows the Bucks to use him as both a guard and a big man. The chaotic start to EuroLeague prompted Milan coach Ettore Messina on Monday to call for suspending the season. He didn’t play like a man satisfied with himself after falling short of his main goal of winning Larry O’Brien Trophy. Only 25% of Antetokounmpo’s shots have come in the first six seconds of the shot clock. This season has been similar to 2018-19 in Toronto, where his supporting cast proved to be far better than given credit for. Play 4. In transition, he’s the primary ball-handler. Shooters make the best screeners, because their defenders (Javonte Green in this case) don’t want to leave them. Number to know: The Bucks have outscored their opponents by 18.9 points per 100 possessions with Bledsoe and Antetokounmpo both on the floor. The search for the next torch-bearer of the game after (and perhaps alongside) Antetokounmpo has already revealed himself. But Joel Embiid, Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Ivica Zubac and even Dwight Howard all had meaningful roles during the 2019-20 season and in the playoffs. (And what else would you expect him to say about his guy?). But in the half-court offense, he’s more of a screen-setter.
Let’s take a look at the various ways the Bucks utilize Antetokounmpo on offense. Chances are, the NBA won't reverse momentum on its marginalization of centers. Of course, if the Lakers have a down year or Davis isn't keen to commit for some reason, James could also enter free agency himself. Despite this, the Bucks still rank sixth in offensive efficiency, just a hair behind the fifth-ranked Miami Heat, and they lead the league in effective field goal percentage (55.3%), the most important number on offense. When these eight seeding games end, Harden will become the first player since Michael Jordan to average 30 ppg or more in three straight seasons. Korver is one of the best shooters in NBA history and Antetokounmpo’s partner in a lot of effective actions offensively, but is a liability on the other end of the floor. Paul didn’t miss a beat with the Thunder, though. In 2014-15, 262 points separated Harden from Stephen Curry, 135 points separated he and Westbrook in 2016-17 and Antetokounmpo edged him out by 165 points in 2019-20. If the back-to-back MVP signs a supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks prior to the start of upcoming campaign, teams that had been clearing space and gearing up for a free-agency run at Antetokounmpo will pivot to their Plan Bs. When these eight seeding games end, Harden will become the first player since Michael Jordan to average 30 ppg or more in three straight seasons. Both Siakam and Tatum stepped into the MVP mix for the first time this season and both could earn All-NBA honors for their work. Given how Russell Westbrook has performed in his first season in Houston, there’s a strong argument that Harden hasn’t even been the best player on his own team since mid-January. Undoubtedly, Harden is one of the greatest NBA scorers ever and has shown himself to be an extraordinary playmaker. The pairing of Doncic and Porzingis should be is enough to inspire championship ambitions sooner rather than later in Dallas. This trio represents a wave of 25-and-under superstars who aren’t about to wait for their elders to step aside so they can shine. His sidekick, Kristaps Porzingis, played like an All-Star during the second half of his first season back from knee surgery. Jokic already has a first-team All-NBA nod on his resume was curiously omitted from MVP conversations last year.

His rapid rise from a relatively obscure Greek pro league to NBA MVP status is one of the great stories in sports history. Doncic’s triple-double barrage and mastery of coach Rick Carlisle’s system has vaulted him to superstar status and the Mavs back into the playoff mix for seasons to come. Film Study: Does the Domantas Sabonis-Myles Turner pairing work ... or not? Number to know: Antetokounmpo has shot 39.4% on non-restricted-area shots in the paint. By clicking "Submit", you agree to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

After Theis and Gordon Hayward form a wall to stop Antetokounmpo in transition, he backs out and isolates against Hayward. The do-it-all wing will probably stay king. But an All-Star starter and potentially a top-three MVP finish in his second season is a bit more than even the most optimistic of Luka lovers could have predicted. Whether they intend to stay in Los Angeles or not, both seem like locks to opt out and seek larger, longer-term salaries. They’re all franchise players for teams that will be contenders in the coming seasons. When Deonte Burton switches a George Hill-Antetokounmpo pick-and-roll, the MVP takes the 6-foot-3 Luguentz Dort into the post, where he scores over the non-existent rim protection of Mike Muscala. Although they surely want Adebayo around for his upcoming prime years, they may not be willing to lock him down this offseason. Antetokounmpo doesn’t actually set a screen and doesn’t get the ball as he slips to the rim, but the slip draws help from Nicolas Batum, leaving Middleton open for a corner 3. Here are a few other options: Play 1. If the Clips come up woefully short of a championship again, after changing coaches and likely making significant alterations to the roster this offseason, there isn't just a chance that one or both of Leonard and George could be gone. No one was sure Paul would even suit up for the Thunder after last summer’s trade that swapped he and Westbrook. The Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz will have their offers ready the second they're allowed to convey them, while the Sacramento Kings may not be far behind. But there will be times when the opponent is knocking down the 3s that the Bucks are willing to give up, and the spotlight will turn to the other end of the floor, Antetokounmpo’s ability to get to the rim, and his teammates’ ability to provide help. Number to know: Middleton has shot 46.5% on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, the fifth best mark among 190 players who have attempted at least 100.