It’d be strange for it to be any other way after a season that saw the Bucks win 50+ games before the hiatus imposed by Covid-19.
The NBA just announced its list of awards finalists for the 2019-2020 season, and both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Mike Budenholzer made the cut:
NBA announces finalists for annual awards: pic.twitter.com/zeVHm6fiWR— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) August 8, 2020
- Votes were cast based off of the regular season prior to the onset of Covid. That means voters were evaluating contenders on what they accomplished prior to mid-March
- Award winners will be announced on a TNT broadcast, quote, “during its coverage of the NBA playoffs”
Antetokounmpo took home his first MVP award last year and has, beyond comprehension, increased his output in nearly every statistical category while dropping his MPG down from 32.8 to 30.7. Barring some unforeseen wave of last-second defections to LeBron James it appears Antetokounmpo’s second consecutive award is a lock.
A little more up in the air are the status of the Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards.
The former is built upon statistics that are harder to quantify and evaluate in terms of individual impact, and so players’ reputations on the defensive end have a role to play. It’s a rare feat to win both in one year: the last player to simultaneously take home MVP and DPOY was Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1993-1994 season.
Mike Budenholzer was deserving of his COY victory a year ago having brought Milwaukee from the back half of the East playoff field to the best record in the entire league. Having hit his W-L, net rating, and player management marks yet again he’ll still have stiff competition in the form of Nick Nurse (who has kept Toronto at a high level post-Kawhi) and Billy Donovan (the Thunder were left something for dead after the Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook deal).
Either way, both are deserving finalists. We’ll find out how many more trophies are coming to Milwaukee in a few weeks.