NBA predictions - Can Antetokounmpo win DPOY, MVP, and Finals MVP?

Giannis Antetokounmpo playing for Bucks
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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week.

And why not? The Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar averaged 13.6 rebounds, one block, and one steal in 30.4 minutes per game during the regular season. Milwaukee’s defensive rating of 96.5 (96.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) with Antetokounmpo on the court gave him the lowest individual defensive rating among more than 300 NBA players who logged at least 15.0 minutes per game. According to Second Spectrum data, the 25-year-old limited opponents to 36.3 percent shooting when he was the closest defender. That is the lowest shooting percentage (minimum 525 attempts) forced by any player in a season since that data started being tracked in 2013-14.

Antetokounmpo—the 2018-19 NBA MVO—becomes the fifth player to win both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in their careers, joining Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Kevin Garnett. Only two have earned those honors in the same season (Jordan in 1987-88; Olajuwon in 1993-94). Antetokounmpo is overwhelmingly expected to join that list, as well, when the 2019-20 MVP Award is announced.

“When you go out there and compete and when you have guys behind you and next to you that compete as hard, awards like this can come,” the Greek Freak explained. “At the end of the day, what I get from this is that you have to win. You have to do whatever it takes every day to go out there and put yourself in a position, put your team in a position to win, and good things are going to happen, and everything is gonna take care of itself.”

Bucks not stopping here

Good things have been happening for the Bucks over the past three contests against the Orlando Magic. Milwaukee quite clearly disregarded the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final seed in Game 1, suffering an alarming 122-110 loss—but since then order has been restored in a big way. The team with the best regular-season record in the association won Game 2 by 15 points, Game 3 by 14 points, and Game 4 by 15 points. Game 3 was a 27-point blowout by halftime.

Milwaukee can finish off the series on Wednesday, when it is a -14 favorite (check out our daily NBA expert picks for every playoff game).

Finals MVP odds

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (+310) – If the Bucks win the NBA title, you can be sure their star player is going to leave Orlando with yet another MVP honor. But that could be a pretty big “if.” The Eastern Conference suddenly looks loaded, as the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat all played awesome basketball during their respective first-round sweeps. Milwaukee faces Miami next. There is nothing not to like about the Greek Freak, himself, but his team has a tall task ahead of it just to make it through the East.

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (+375) – Now it is the Western Conference where contenders other than the Lakers look vulnerable. The Los Angeles Clippers have lost two games to the Dallas Mavericks, including one in which Kristaps Porzingis did not even play. The Houston Rockets have also dropped a pair to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well. All of this is good news for the Lakers—and for LeBron.

Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers (+400) – Like Antetokounmpo, Leonard is probably a lock to win Finals MVP if his team takes the title. But can the Clippers get back on track and do it? Paul George has been wildly inconsistent and Patrick Beverley is hurt. They may end up getting past Dallas with Porzingis ailing and Doncic dealing with an ankle problem, but could they win an all-L.A. showdown in the conference finals? Maybe not.

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers (+1100) – At +1100, Davis has the best value here (with LeBron arguably second best). The Lakers have looked great over their past three games against the Portland Trail Blazers, a series progressing not unlike Bucks vs. Magic. Davis has been the biggest reason for the turnaround since Game 1, delivering two double-doubles and shooting better than 61 percent in each of the three wins. Even though this is LeBron’s team, the difference between +375 and +1100 is too much to avoid betting on A.D.

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