“Giannis is No. 1; If I’m hung over, you can put anyone at No. 2” - Zach Lowe claims the ESPN rankings got it right when it named Giannis Antetokounmpo as the NBA’s best player next season

Estonia v Greece: Group C - FIBA EuroBasket 2022
Estonia v Greece: Group C - FIBA EuroBasket 2022

Having placed second last season with Kevin Durant topping the chart, Giannis Antetokounmpo has emerged at the top of ESPN’s rankings of next season’s best NBA players. “The Greek Freak” may not have a game that’s as mesmerizing as KD’s, but he’s arguably the game’s most complete and dominant force today.

After ESPN’s rankings were revealed, Zach Lowe completely agreed with who they put as No.1 on the list:

“Giannis is No. 1. It’s over, the debate is over. After that, depending on my mood, what I had for dinner, if I’m hung over, you can put anyone at No. 2. You can put LeBron at No. 2, I can’t argue with that. Kevin Durant is eight, you can put Kevin Durant.”

The results were similar to another ESPN survey conducted among 15 NBA scouts, executives and coaches weeks before the top 100 list was revealed. Giannis Antetokounmpo was tied with Kevin Durant in the poll last season but was the clear winner this time round. He was overwhelmingly voted as the best player for next season over Steph Curry and LeBron James.

Without Khris Middleton in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the two-time MVP nearly dragged the Milwaukee Bucks to an upset over the Boston Celtics. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s average against Boston’s top-ranked defense was staggering. He had 33.9 points, 14.7 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.1 blocks in the seven-game series.

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Former NBA player and ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins shared the same view as Zach Lowe:

“Absolutely and he’s been deserving of the No. 1 spot. In my opinion, Giannis Antetkounmpo has been the best player in the league for the last three years. If you start a team today and you can ask all 30 GMs who they’re taking No. 1, you’re taking Giannis. A walking 29 [points] and 12 [rebounds] a night.”

Antetokounmpo carried his sizzling form to the EuroBasket where he was easily the most dominant player in the tournament. His 29.3 points per game was the second-best average in the tournament’s history behind only compatriot Nikos Galis’ 32.4 PPG back in 1991.

.@KendrickPerkins list his top-five players in the NBA 👀 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo2. Stephen Curry3. LeBron James4. Nikola Jokic5. Joel Embiid

Oddsmakers put Giannis Antetokounmpo in the top three favorites to win the NBA MVP award next season

Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid are consistently the top two favorites to win the NBA MVP award next season. “Luka Magic” is +450 while “The Process” is +600. Giannis Antetokounmpo usually follows both (+690) in most bookies' odds.

Doncic and Embiid have not won the award before, although the latter has come close to winning one. The Philadelphia 76ers center nearly pulled off the win last season against back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic. Antetokounmpo came in third in the voting.

Luka Doncic has the highest odds to win MVP title next season, Giannis Antetokounmpo is second favorite 👀

The Milwaukee Bucks have retooled and are arguably deeper next season. They will also presumably have Brook Lopez healthier than last season, which should help add to the Bucks’ win total. When Milwaukee tops at least 50 wins in a season, Antetokounmpo’s chance to win the MVP award will also go up.

2022-23 NBA Championship OddsBoston Celtics 5-1Milwaukee Bucks 6-1Golden State Warriors 7-1Brooklyn Nets 15-2Los Angeles Clippers 15-2Phoenix Suns 10-1Los Angeles Lakers 14-1Miami Heat 16-1Philadelphia 76ers 16-1Denver Nuggets 20-1Dallas Mavericks 22-1

If the Bucks win the East next season, which they are capable of doing, Giannis Antetokounmpo could win his third MVP award in five seasons.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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