The two clear frontrunners for MVP are Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid but Milwaukee believe Giannis Antetokounmpo has been forgotten in the midst of arguably one of his best seasons yet.
The MVP race may very well go down to the last game of the regular season and if they continue their form, the Bucks will have the league’s best record heading into the postseason, which should definitely count for something.
Bucks center Brook Lopez believes “voter fatigue” is the reason Antetokounmpo is being overlooked, which was reflected in ESPN’s latest MVP straw poll where he got 18 of a possible 100-first place votes.
“It’s honestly like he makes being elite, elite, an all-time great player look routine,” Bucks center Brook Lopez told ESPN. “Which in itself is impressive. I think people maybe don’t hold it against him, but it’s voter fatigue. Jokic is a great player, all deserved, Embiid is a great player, all deserved. But it’s just kind of the way it is with Giannis. He’s so great that that’s the reality that comes with it.”
Antetokounmpo won his two MVPs in consecutive seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20) and finished in the top five in voting the two seasons prior.
This season, he is averaging a career-best 31.1 points on 55 percent shooting to go with 11.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 62 games. He also bested his previous career highs in points and rebounds this season.
“[Antetokounmpo] has been MVP too much,” Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said. “He’s been doing this too much, I feel like people get bored of it. It’s kind of like the [LeBron James] effect. LeBron has done it so many times that people think that it’s normal now. And it’s not.
“But [Antetokounmpo] makes it look so easy. The first couple years that he got it, it’s like, wow, nobody can do [that], and it’s still, to this day, nobody can do what he does. He’s [on] the No. 1 team, not just in the East, but in the league.”
Antetokounmpo is grateful to be in the top tier of the voting once again but says he is putting all his energy into his team succeeding.
“It’s a great compliment,” Antetokounmpo said after Sunday’s win over Embiid’s 76ers. “I was happy when I won my first two. I’m happy that the last five years, I’m able to be in the conversation. I’m happy that I’m able to be consistent. I’m happy I’m able to help my team be great, but that’s the goal. That’s the only goal. Keep putting myself in position to help my team be great.”
As it stands, the bookmakers have Embiid as odds-on favorite to win MVP as he leads the league in scoring and is averaging 33 points on 54 percent shooting with 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
He has finished second in voting behind Jokic the last two seasons but if Jokic does win, it will be his third straight MVP award.