Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Greek national team had a rough time achieving success during the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Although the team included one of the best players in the NBA, it wasn’t enough for them to secure a medal. Let’s look at Antetokounmpo’s time in China, and why Bucks fans shouldn’t be worried heading into the new NBA season.
Leading Milwaukee to the No. 1 seed
When the Toronto Raptors made the blockbuster trade for Kawhi Leonard, it looked like it would be a two-team race for Eastern Conference supremacy. Many expected the Raptors and Boston Celtics to fight for the top spot, but to the surprise of many, Milwaukee ended up on top.
The team won 60 games, which topped the entire league, and Giannis couldn’t be stopped down the regular-season stretch. Head coach Mike Budenholzer became just the seventh coach to win NBA Coach of the Year with two different franchises.
Making the Eastern Conference Finals
The Bucks went into the Eastern Conference playoffs determined to win an NBA championship. They made quick work of the Detroit Pistons, winning that series in a sweep. After losing the first game to the Boston Celtics in the East semis, ESPN analyst Paul Pierce stated that the series was over.
That seemed to fuel Antetokounmpo, as he dominated the rest of the series as Milwaukee won in five games. It led to a showdown with Kawhi and the No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors.
Although the Bucks won the first two games, Toronto put the clamps on the Greek Freak and won the next four, securing their trip to the NBA Finals.
Winning the 2019 MVP
Although the Bucks fell short in the playoffs, Giannis Antetokounmpo had an amazing regular season, winning the 2019 NBA MVP award over James Harden and Paul George. For much of the year, it looked like the award was Harden’s to lose, but down the stretch you could tell Antetokounmpo had a “take no prisoners” mentality, to get his team the top seed.
He averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds per game, while also dishing out six assists.
Poor showing for Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece
The biggest reason Giannis wasn’t able to lead Greece to the knockout round of the tournament was the changes in FIBA’s rules compared to the NBA. FIBA doesn’t have a defensive three-second violation, so players can camp in the paint and obstruct his path to the hoop.
The 3-point line is also shorter, which means there is less space to maneuver along the perimeter. We were shocked to see two teams with one NBA player combined (the Czech Republic and Poland) reach the knockout round over Greece.
Why Bucks fans shouldn’t be worried
Although Giannis Antetokopunmpo didn’t do much damage in the FIBA World Cup, we don’t think Bucks fans should worry about the upcoming season.
The East has a new favorite on paper in the Philadelphia 76ers, but we expect Milwaukee to continue their dominance over the conference.
With Kawhi headed to Los Angeles, Giannis will continue his reign as the best player in the conference and should put up numbers similar to his 2018-19 campaign.
How do you feel about Giannis heading into the 2019-20 season?
Do you think Giannis Antetokounmpo will struggle at the start of the NBA season? We expect him to come out more determined and focused after Greece’s poor showing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.