It was a packed out Staples Center. A nationally televised game that everyone was rubbing their hands together, ready for the epic battle between last year’s MVP and the NBA Finals MVP. Then, a Clippers announcement broke just before the game, and everyone fell back in their chairs.
Kawhi Leonard would be sitting out for “Load Management” against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. This announcement got some serious media attention and everyone couldn’t help to express their feelings. But back to the disappointing game, and as we all expected, Giannis took over finishing with 38 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists in Milwaukee’s 129-124 win.
The Bucks are only eight games into their season, but Antetokounmpo is already hitting career bests averaging 29 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 7.6 assists while shooting 59.2 percent from the floor. Is the reigning MVP getting better than last year?
His current stats add up to that question, but to me, I believe he is, from the fueled memory of last year’s Eastern Conference loss that’s driving him. Pat Connaughton, a teammate, said Antetokounmpo had come away from that experience with a sharper understanding of what it takes to win at the highest level. I imagine Giannis as a tiger, waiting in the long grass, poised and ready to leap forward when the timing is right. Last year he was a child at school, excelling at his craft. This year, he could be the teacher.
Catch you Monday.