Giannis Antetokounmpo or James Harden is the topic of discussion in terms of this year’s MVP race. Let’s look at the numbers from both Giannis and James from this past season. James Harden posted 36.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 44.2 field goal percentage, 36.8 field goal percentage from 3-point range and 87.9 percent from the free throw line per Basketball-Reference. All of those numbers record by Harden this season were career highs for the NBA’s reigning MVP.
Giannis Antetokounmpo also registered some career highs this season with 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 57.8 field goal percentage per game according to Basketball-Reference. Harden was able to edge out Antetokounmpo in points, assists, field goal percentage from behind the arc and at the free throw line, while Antetokounmpo countered in rebounds. However, Antetokounmpo was able to lead the Milwaukee Bucks record in the league (60-22) as they secured the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. For Harden, the Houston Rockets finished 4th in the Western Conference with a record of 53-29.
So the question is who is this year’s MVP?
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🏀🦌 #pressplay: “It’s Giannis, Giannis Antetokounmpo” Last night the #Milwaukeebucks took a (1-0) #ECF lead vs. the Toronto Raptors. Recently, I spoke with @firsttake star @mollyqerim on Giannis’ MVP chances & the chance the Bucks have on winning a NBA championship (Shot by @sheena_marie3) #mollyqerim #theseurbantimes #tbt #throwback #nba #nbaplayoffs #espn #fearthedeer #goodmorning #basketball #sportsfan #espn #dailynews #thursdaymotivation
If you ask ESPN’s First Take host Molly Qerim, who was a guest on These Urban Times with Terrell Thomas, it’s Giannis.
“It’s Giannis! Giannis Antetokounmpo and he is slowing developing a three-point shot wait until that and he is more accurate. It is all over… No brainer, said Qerim.
She would continue:
“What Milwaukee has done is special. I think they might be a piece away from a championship.“
Former Piston and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and former Rocket Bonzi Wells echoed Qerim’s selection of Giannis for MVP.
“It is right there, as I think about what Giannis did in a small market like Milwaukee. To win 60 games I would give him a little bit of an edge over James because James is a volume shooter. He will get his numbers for a volume shooter, but for an efficient guy like Giannis and what he means to his team. I would probably give it to him for the balance of the league, but they are both very well deserving. If you could go co-MVPs I don’t think anyone would be mad,” said Wells.
“From the regular season, I thought Harden had another great season, and he did things that another hasn’t done in a while. Giannis also had a great regular season, but from a winning standpoint, I always go with the winner. This is not a knock on the season that Harden had, but what Giannis did from a winning standpoint to me he would get my vote. It would only be by a very slim margin because you can make an argument for both of them and they could be Co-MVPs, but if I had to pick just one, I would have to give it to Giannis this year,” said Thomas.
If anyone was wondering if swapping both Giannis for Harden would change things here are two trade scenarios.
Per ESPN’s Trade Machine:
a trade of Antetokounmpo, D.J. Wilson, and Donte DiVincenzo in exchange for Harden would subtract ten wins for Milwaukee and add a win for the Rockets. Another trade scenario involves Giannis and Tony Snell heading to Houston in exchange for Harden and Nene. The Bucks wins would decrease by seven and the Rockets would not be affected at all.
The Bucks are looking to take a 2-0 lead against the Toronto Raptors tonight on TNT, as the series shifts back to Toronto for games 3 and 4.