While the season did not finish in a way we’d all have loved, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of play to be proud of. Leading the way for the Milwaukee Bucks, as ever, was Giannis Antetokounmpo, and for his trouble he’s garnered 100 out of 100 first-place votes as a forward, making him the only player in the league to be an unanimous first team All-NBA player.
Complete voting results: pic.twitter.com/kaIZhhWM7q— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 25, 2022
More impressively, perhaps, is that this isn’t the first clean sweep of his career. In fact, it is his fourth season in a row pulling off that feat (and sixth season being named to any All-NBA team):
Giannis All-NBA First Team votes in the last 4 seasons— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 25, 2022
Best. Player. On. Earth. pic.twitter.com/FUoQOpj13b
As I’ve previously noted, Giannis had taken his already phenomenal abilities up another notch, especially to start the season when star running mates Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday went down to injury/Covid. That, and the loss of Brook Lopez meant that Antetokounmpo had to trade in his poaching defensive instincts for a true center hard hat. He logged the most minutes he’s played since the 2018-2019 season (2204), had the highest per game point output in his career (29.9 with .553/.293/.722 shooting splits), with 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, the second-highest usage rate of his career, and the second-lowest turnover rate of his career.
His early season game looked to prove that his evolution in the 2021 Finals was potentially sustainable over the long-term, and with the MVP race at a bit of an impasse, he strung together a pair of the more fantastic efforts any player had in the league, scoring 40 and 44 points in consecutive road victories over the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. While Nikola Jokic eventually ran away with MVP voting, for just a split-second it felt like Giannis had turned the conversation his way yet again. In the end, Jokic and Antetokounmpo will split first-team honors, while guy who was just happy to be there Joel Embiid takes a second-team spot.
Also interesting to note is Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday each earning a grand total of one third-team vote each. Better than nothing!
Looking at other forward vote earners, I find it hard to believe Giannis losing his first-team spot for years to come so long as he remains healthy. He’s just head and shoulders above most of his peers, even at the very elite top of competition.