2023 NBA Playoffs Preview | Would Another Title Cement Giannis Antetokounmpo As An All-Time Great?

The NBA playoffs begin on Saturday and while the Milwaukee Bucks are still waiting to see who their opponent will be in round one, they are among the favorites to win the NBA title. Will a second championship and presumably second Finals MVP, cement Giannis Antetokounmpo as an all-time great? ESPN’s JJ Redick thinks so.

Giannis Is Already An All-Timer

Let’s be clear. If Antetokounmpo retires from the NBA right now he is a first-ballot Hall of Fame player. He’s won a championship, a Finals MVP, two-time league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, seven-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA, and five-time All-Defense. The list of players who have done that is not long.

When the season awards and accolades are announced he will add to these totals.

A second title, as Redick suggests, would put him in elite company with LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, and Larry Bird as the only players with multiple league MVPs and multiple Finals MVPs.

That’s rarefied air.

Antetokounmpo averaged 31 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game this year. He finished eighth in EPM at +6.4.

He has been a perennial part of the MVP discussion since 2018, which is a testament to how dominant he has been the last six seasons.

“Look, I will never try to create a narrative about the work I put in and maybe that might hurt me because I believe the last five years I’ve been the MVP,” Antetokounmpo stated firmly to B/R. “Do I want a third MVP? Hell f–king yeah I want a third one. I am extremely competitive. I try to make my team successful. That’s what I get paid for. That’s what I’m here for. I’m never going to be one who discredits anybody else’s work. That’s not who I am as a person. And I will never beg for an MVP award that I believe I deserve. I’m very proud that I’m able to play at an MVP level because that means I’m making my team very successful. That’s the goal.”

It’s Hard To Parse The Best Of The Best

Antetokounmpo likely won’t win the award this year, though he’ll finish top three. From now until his career ends it will be about adding to an already all-time résumé. That’s what separates the all-time greats from the inner circle and GOAT talk.

Once he starts getting into the double digits with All-NBA, All-Stars and has another title or two, you’re talking about Bron, MJ, and Kareem. That’s the inner circle of NBA achievement.

Lists and rankings are what they are, and fans love to debate them. But the truth is when discussing the best of the best it’s really difficult.

Once you start talking about the top 12 players ever in the history of the NBA these are all exceptional players. You’d almost assuredly have an excellent team, year in and year out with any one of them at the helm.

Championships and team success is about more than just the one great player. You need a collective, and now more than ever teams must do what they can to maximize the potential of their superstar players.

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