Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks jumped out to a league-leading start this season. At this point, Milwaukee is on pace to easily surpass 70 wins. Surrounding the Greek Freak is most of the core team from last year’s playoff run. However, the Bucks’ main focus is on the power duo of Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
The latter player quietly put up All-Star numbers when the Bucks needed them, getting within two games of the finals last year. But the most remarkable story out of Milwaukee isn’t Middleton’s consistency or the team’s pure skill, it’s Antetokounmpo’s age.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s athletic advantage
At barely 25 years of age, Antetokounmpo has the potential to terrorize the league for another decade and a half. While his leadership still needs improvement, most fans agree that the Bucks’ chemistry will grow as his locker-room presence develops.
It’s entirely possible that Antetokounmpo has incredible duels with Bronny James through the 2020s. The Greek Freak stayed hungry in the offseason. He maintained his conditioning and worked on a few holes in his game.
Antetokounmpo is now averaging over 30 points a game for the first time in his career. This is a massive step up from his previous best of 27.7 (2018-19). Just like last year, his competition with James Harden for the MVP award is must-see.
Young players like Antetokounmpo in today’s NBA
The NBA has seen more and more players go pro directly after high school or one year of college. Between this and the influx of global players, more stars are developing in their early twenties.
Led by a 22-year old LeBron James, the 2007 Cavaliers got all the way to the NBA finals with little added star power. Despite being swept in four games, the Cavs made critics accept that the LeBron kid was for real. His impressive streak of success since then should strike fear into the hearts of anyone expecting Antetokounmpo to flame out after a few good seasons.
About 35 years ago, Michael Jordan played four full years for North Carolina. Even once he started with the Bulls, MJ tallied a 1-9 playoff record. He went on to become the GOAT, of course. But comparing his results at age 25 to Antetokounmpo’s isn’t worth the time.
NBA players, especially great ones, tend to improve over time. Along with Luka Doncic, Antetokounmpo is getting it done for the next generation.
The scariest part of Antetokounmpo’s game
The aspects of Antetokounmpo’s game are enough to give any opposing coach fits. How do you stop someone so massive with the ability to shoot so well? Antetokounmpo is a triple-double threat every night. The fact that he could do this for the next 15 years is the scariest part of his game.
The Bucks lead the league and everyone is looking toward an inevitable playoff set with the Lakers. Will James pass the torch or defy age and continue putting up MVP numbers? Given that Antetokounmpo recently described James as an alien (with the utmost reverence), he might not be surprised if James pulls out a win. In the end, the real winner of that series will be the fans.
Any result will be a boost to the Greek Freak’s legacy. The chance that Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks to the championship is bigger than people think. Even if he has to wait a couple more years to be the NBA’s consensus best player, he won’t mind. He’s got time.