Every NBA Draft there are players taken based purely off of the hope that they max out their potential. Few of those players reach that star potential you can see in their game as 19-year-olds in need of development, but when they do it catapults the franchise forward significantly and makes the front office look like geniuses.
That’s the case with the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo, their 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, who made the leap last season from intriguing talent to dominant All-Star. The emerging superstar put everyone on notice of his freakish talents at the All-Star Game when he dunked all over poor Steph Curry, among many others.
Antetokounmpo also had some tremendous efforts in the Bucks’ first round series loss to the Raptors and is the big reason why many see Milwaukee as the next best emerging threat to the Eastern Conference. For his efforts last season, Antetokounmpo earned the league’s Most Improved Player award and there are many, including Kevin Durant, who see him as an MVP candidate in the future.
Next year seems like a long shot for when Antetokounmpo fully taps into his abilities and dominates the league in an MVP type year, but given his massive improvements from 2015-16 to 2016-17, it isn’t fully out of the question. In a sit-down interview on Bucks.com, Antetokounmpo was told he wouldn’t win Most Improved again next season and had the perfect retort that he absolutely could if he makes that jump to winning the MVP as well.
“Why?” Antetokounmpo quipped. “I might be the MVP this year. OK, but if I win the MVP, I can be the most improved!”
It’s a great answer and a truthful one at that. If Giannis, who averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game last year, were to become a reliable three-point threat this summer and see his three-point percentage climb from 27.2 percent to something in the mid-to-high 30s (unlikely, I know, but just stick with me), then he could very well become a near 30-point per game scorer, which would put him in the conversation at the least.
The MIP award often goes to the player that goes from role player to quality starter or decent starter to star, but it’s just as difficult — if not moreso — to go from star to elite-level star and that should absolutely be under consideration for the award as well. It doesn’t happen often, but Antetokounmpo is very much in the conversation of being the next young star that can take that step.