Nobody can really be sure whether Giannis Antetokounmpo will manage to win his third MVP trophy. The statistical output between himself, Nikola Jokic, and Joel Embiid are all quite impressive in their own rights, and each team’s win-loss record are separated by just a few games. When they’re not playing, their respective rosters certainly look the part of players missing the key cog around which they function.
The key to winning the award for Giannis likely does not lie solely in his production (though winning the scoring title and having a DPOY-worthy outing would bolster his argument); rather, if the Bucks can make a last dash to the top seed in the East, one can credibly argue that not only did he have the best performance of any player in the league, but that he did it and pushed his injury-riddled team atop the conference. Without that, I could easily see media defaulting to Embiid — who has also had an excellent season while avoiding injury trouble — for keeping Philadelphia afloat while the Ben Simmons saga played out.
Even if you’re not as invested in the MVP race as the ultimate success of Milwaukee’s season, I look at this last stretch as a potential indicator of how far the Bucks can go. Put it all together and claim the top seed, and that bodes well for how fast the rotation was capable of integrating Brook Lopez, George Hill, and Pat Connaughton. Miss out or, also likely given how tight the top of the East standings are, fall to a lower seed, and we may have bigger concerns than the impact on a MVP trophy.
Maybe it’ll be moot if Giannis misses more games with knee soreness — after all, if Embiid can manage more appearances this season, that’s another feather in his cap. That most of the guys in the conversation are totally worthy of the award would take away some of the sting if Giannis misses out, but I’d like to live on the timeline where Milwaukee takes that final step forward for everyone’s benefit.
Giannis Is Clobbering His Way Into the MVP Race (The Ringer)
And Rob Mahoney over at The Ringer essentially takes the premise of my introduction and gives it much more depth, nuance, and statistical backing. Even here, though, you get the sense that a Giannis MVP push just doesn’t have a ton of proper oomph. We might have to be content with seeing if his raised level carries successfully into another deep playoff run for a different sort of hardware.
(For more from The Ringer, here’s Mahoney talking with Bill Simmons about Giannis being the league’s most “disrespected” superstar)
Is Giannis the most disrespected superstar of his generation?@BillSimmons and @RobMahoney examine Antetokounmpo's legacy and why people are hesitant to give him his respect: pic.twitter.com/FIFEJ0xw3p— The Ringer (@ringer) March 18, 2022
DPOY would be a pretty solid consolation prize for Giannis, and I think he’s particularly deserving this season having been press ganged into new on-court emphases without Brook Lopez. His 42% of minutes played as a center (per basketball-reference) is by far his highest mark in his career with his second-highest being 27% in the 2018-2019 season. Even up a position he remains a menace whose presence alters opponents’ offensive dynamics which in a way is what a true DPOY does.
I’ve not had a chance to tune in to the podcast, but for those who want to get some analysis about the Bucks from Marques, his appearance begins around 46:45 on the recording I downloaded.
Ranking Contenders in the Eastern Conference (Sports Illustrated)
When you lay out the arguments for all the top teams in the conference, its both invigorating and a little scary. Invigorating insofar as the Bucks getting to the Finals again would be indisputable validation for what they’re capable of. Scary because we are certainly capable of watching Jrue and Khris combine for 15 turnovers a game while we crash out in the ECSF.
Live by the secondary stars, die by the secondary stars.
Our resident book reviewer stoneAge is back at it again with “March 2022 Book Review - Principles of Success”. I like the idea of the Bucks as an organization, headed by Jon Horst, going on their own form of self-help trip to alter their trajectory towards a title. Its a fine line between a frank productive discussion about how to move an organization into a better direction and MBAs gathering en masse to synergize net income to contextualize visions of success. It’s better this way with the former FedEx driver running the show.
Know Your Enemy
- Chicago Bulls - Blog a Bull - Alex Caruso is back, but the Bulls are far from fixed
Modern medical science was able to bring Alex Caruso back from the brink, and now he is in charge of playing enough defense for himself and for guys like Zach LaVine who are hobbled with lingering injuries of their own.
Anyways, they’ve got this going for them:
With this imminent loss, Bulls would:— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 19, 2022
---Drop to 2-17 vs. current top-4 teams in each conference
---Fall 1.5 games behind Celtics for homecourt advantage
---Drop to 1 game ahead of 6th-place Cleveland
- Washington Wizards - Bullets Forever - Wizards beat Lakers to snap six-game losing streak
Washington is belatedly fighting to improve their draft position as quickly as possible ever since Bradley Beal went down with season-ending wrist surgery. And yet! The Lakers are the perfect team to break a losing streak against. That must’ve been a less-than-ideal result for their front office.
A great coach is able to design a system that employs his roster’s particular strengths. For Taylor Jenkins, his “cycle” principle takes the numerous defensive role guys in the rotation, asks them to generate turnovers and decisive stops before having all five players take off in a full sprint for a transition opportunity. That open play is where Ja Morant thrives, and its a big reason why the Grizz have generated some of the most highlights of any team this season.
The Social Media Section
Any city would be made richer by having this guy as part of its fabric. A pleasure to have him as part of ours.
Welcome to beautiful and warm Milwaukee ☀️ pic.twitter.com/DqAZOeKtxo— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) March 20, 2022
Brew Hoop-esque in the advanced stats breakdown here
The Bucks are now 44-0 this season in games they've won.— Alex Wojnarowski ➐ (@GiannisLamar_) March 19, 2022
When they win, they're unbeatable. The rest of the NBA should be terrified. pic.twitter.com/zb9zkK7BIn
DJ Wilson, come on down, brother
Reminder of one of my favorite quotes from a front office executive about the NCAA Tournament: "I hate the tourney. I mean HATE it. Our owner always falls in love with some kid based on the tourney and wants us to draft him. Forget the years or work we put in, just draft him."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) March 16, 2022
Giannis continues to add to his game
Giannis impersonation of Khris is spot on pic.twitter.com/6LeLwVliHM— 22 (@khashdinero) March 15, 2022
The surest proof we’re living in a simulation is a photo with Chuck Liddell, Vlade Divac, and Brett Favre hanging out with Giannis’s game-worn jersey
Let’s put the site budget to use and make the “Brew Hoop Deer District” a reality
The @Bucks are seeking a 10-year, $3-4 million minimum on @DeerDistrict naming-rights pact.— Sports Business Journal (@sbjsbd) March 16, 2022
The outdoor entertainment area adjacent to @FiservForum gathered an estimated 65,000 people when the Bucks won the NBA Finals in Milwaukee in July. pic.twitter.com/N1O0H0aoCt
I like that Serge is an internet personality
retired janitor’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 44-27
Riley’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 41-30
This should be a decent week in terms of worthy competition while the Bucks iron out the edges of the rotation. They begin tomorrow night hosting the Chicago Bulls, have the Wizards in on Thursday, and then start a three-game trip out east beginning in Memphis on Saturday.
Assuming Giannis is back from his knee soreness, I believe we should have the quality to have a perfect week. Chicago still doesn’t have any size to counteract Giannis, the Wizards will probably take us to triple OT before we prevail, and Brook Lopez will get a good challenge trying to keep that Steven Adams-Ja Morant elbow action contained. If it works, that’s some good evidence that we might just be able to find a formula in all of this chaos.