Giannis Antetokounmpo: It’s Your League Now

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Behind a legendary performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a 2-0 series deficit to defeat the Phoenix Suns and win the NBA Championship. After scoring 50 points in the series-clinching game, Giannis could not hold back tears when describing his journey to the top of the NBA.

We’re running out of adjectives to describe Giannis and his journey to the NBA. Inspiring stands above the rest. From selling purses in the streets of Greece to picking up a basketball for the first time at age 12, Giannis is the culmination of how a dream and a strong work ethic can lead to great things. My favorite Giannis story is the time he wired all of his money back to his family in Greece, which meant he had to run to the arena in the cold since he couldn’t afford a cab.

Giannis’s journey off the court should not overshadow what he did on the court to win the championship. Giannis has been knocking on the door of greatness since the 2019 season, where he won his first MVP. After losing to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals despite having a 2-0 series lead, doubt started to creep in as many felt Giannis would need to join up with other superstars to win a title. Kawhi shut down Giannis in those last four games, and Giannis’s offensive limitations started to stand out.

The next season, Giannis went scorched earth, averaging 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.0 blocks on his way to his second-straight MVP. Oh, by the way, the Greek Freak also won Defensive Player of the Year in that same season. Giannis ascended into the top 5 for player rankings, but his team came up short again, losing embarrassingly to the Miami Heat in the Conference Semifinals.

Let’s be honest. There are a lot of players who would’ve left Milwaukee if they were in Giannis’s shoes. At the very least, most players would have entertained free agency instead of signing an extension before the season. The possibility of teaming up with another superstar like Luka Doncic would entice many players to consider their options.

To steal a quote from LeBron James, Giannis is “built different.”

Giannis signed the supermax before this past season, lead the Bucks to the NBA Finals, and won the whole damn thing. Not bad for a guy who shot 18% from behind-the-arc in the playoffs.

It cannot be understated how good Giannis was during the Finals. These numbers are staggering, considering it came on the biggest stage in the most important spot of the season.

  • Game 1 – 20 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 block
  • Game 2 – 42 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocks
  • Game 3 – 41 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal
  • Game 4 – 26 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and an iconic block
  • Game 5 – 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists, and an iconic alley-oop
  • Game 6 – 50 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 blocks, and 17/19 from the line

Going into the playoffs, Giannis solidified his spot in the top 5 for player rankings. Before the Finals, the Greek Freak was in the top 3, no questions asked, alongside LeBron and Kevin Durant.

After last night, Giannis became the best player in the NBA. Giannis crowned himself a year too early, but he earned that crown last night. LeBron and KD are talented enough to take back the title of best in the league next season, but for now, it’s Giannis’s league.

When you look at Giannis’s resume, it’s arguably the best resume of all time through age 26.

Only two players have multiple MVPs, DPOY, and a Finals MVP. It’s Michael Jordan and Giannis.

The NBA has been searching for someone to take the torch from LeBron as the face of the league. An athletic, humble, and likable superstar from Greece might be the perfect option.

Do you think Giannis is the new face of the league? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

The Unafraid Show NBA Awards 2018-2019: MVP, ROTY, DPOY, COTY

NBA Awards 2018-2019 Giannis Antetokounmpo vs James Harden, NBA MVP, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year

Welcome to the 2018-2019 Unafraid Show NBA Awards. We don’t have an official vote yet for the NBA Awards, but here are the players and coach that should receive the awards. I can’t remember a year where so many of the major races are still up for grabs. It’s all highlighted by the MVP race between Giannis Antetokounmpo or James Harden. NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA Coach of the Year is a close race as well. What’s your pick?

While you debate your picks, here are my NBA Awards selections.

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MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo

They say ties are a lot like kissing your sister. However, this year more than ever, there should be Co-MVPs. It’s impossible to state whether Giannis Antetokounmpo or James Harden is more valuable to their team. It’s a true catch-22. When comparing stat lines, take your pick. Each guy set records. For Giannis, 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 30.99 per, with the latter ranking first in the NBA. Giannis joins Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the only other player to average 27 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 block per game. For James Harden, the scoring numbers are off the charts. Harden averaged the seventh most points in a season in NBA history with 36.1 to go along with 6.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and a 30.67 per, with the latter ranking second behind Giannis. Plus, there was the historic streak of scoring at least 30 points per game in 32 straight games. I usually don’t use wins as the determining factor in the MVP race, but in this particular race, it helps. Giannis led the Bucks to an NBA best of 60 wins, which is 12 more than the win total set by Oddshark back in October. Harden, who single-handily carried the Rockets for long stretches where both Chris Paul and Clint Capela were out, led the Rockets to 53 wins, which is two less than their predicted total on Oddshark. Because of the wins jump and the defensive numbers (which will be mentioned later), my MVP vote by the slimmest of margins goes to Giannis.


Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic

The hype is real. I am guilty of catching Luka fever. Luka Doncic flat out put on a show this season. Luka was the only rookie to average over 20 points per game and led all rookies in scoring with 21.2 points per game. Since 1990, only 15 first-year players have scored over 20 points per game and just four of them have been 19 years old or younger. Luka’s 21.2 points per game are the most among those four players. The rest of Luka’s stat line was impressive. To go along with the 21 points per game, Luka added 7.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.3 3-pointers made, and 1.0 steal per game in 32.2 minutes a night as a rookie. As a comparison, Luka had higher numbers than LeBron James as a rookie in all of those statistical categories besides assists (tied) and steals (LeBron averaged 1.6). Despite a late push from Trae Young, Doncic’s historic season deserves to be honored with the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

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Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo

This is not your typical Defensive Player of the Year award winner. Rudy Gobert is most likely going to win this award if Giannis wins MVP and I’m positive neither player will argue those outcomes. Gobert is one of the best rim protectors in the league and leads the league in defensive real plus-minus. However, Giannis is one of the most feared defenders in the league and the best two-way player in the game. Although Giannis is 14th in defensive real plus-minus, it’s his ability to force bad shots and help on defense that gives him the edge over Gobert. Giannis joins Andre Drummond as the only two players in the NBA to accumulate 100 blocks and 90s steals. Imagine driving to the lane and having a pterodactyl come flying over to alter your shot. That’s what happens when opponents drive on the Bucks’ defense, which ranks first overall in the NBA.

Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams

If you could award this to a pair of teammates. the easy decision would be Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. I wanted to make sure Harrell was given a shoutout because of his outstanding season. That being said, Lou Williams is going to win this award. “Lou Will” is a scoring machine as the guard once again leads all sixth men in scoring with 20.3 ppg. What’s even more impressive is that Williams leads the Clippers in scoring and is a big reason why the Clippers are headed to playoffs despite this being a rebuilding season. It’s not often the sixth man is the team’s best player, but that’s exactly the case in Los Angeles. Williams will win his third sixth man of the year trophy.

Most Improved Player: Pascal Siakam

If you ask a casual NBA fan about Pascal Siakam, they might say, “who?” I don’t mean that as a dig at Siakam. The causal fan better get used to hearing his name this postseason. As great as D’Angelo Russell and De’Aaron Fox have been, this is what they were projected to do coming out of college. Pascal Siakam is an anomaly. Siakam didn’t start playing basketball until he was 18. Look at the jump that Siakam has made in almost every statistical category.

Siakam is 6’9″ matchup nightmare who has developed into one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Siakam is an integral part of the Raptors’ success and will play a key role for Toronto during their playoff run. When the NBA announces its most improved player, the world will never forget the name, Pascal Siakam. He may be a staple on the NBA Awards All-defensive team.

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NBA Coach of the Year: Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson from the Brooklyn Nets should win NBA Coach of the Year, but it’s not going to happen. It’s going to Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks. What Budenholzer has done for the Milwaukee Bucks should not go unnoticed. Budenholzer raised Giannis’s game to an MVP level and guided the Bucks to the best record in the NBA with a 60 win season. Credit to him for a job well done. However, my vote for Coach of the Year goes to Kenny Atkinson of the Brooklyn Nets. I can’t comprehend how good of a job Atkinson has done since he arrived in Brooklyn three seasons ago. Atkinson had to come in and try to clean up the mess from the Paul Pierce / Kevin Garnett trade that left the Nets in shambles. However, Atkinson rebuilt the right way. Teams should take notes on what the Nets have been doing the past few seasons. Sign and trade for young, under-valued talent and let them mature while you clear cap space. Who would’ve thought that D’Angelo Russell, who was deemed “not a leader” by Magic Johnson, would revitalize his career and become an All-Star? The Nets won 28 games last year. This year, the Nets have won 40+ and are going to the playoffs. Congratulations to Kenny Atkinson on a magnificent job.

What are your picks for the NBA Awards 2018-2019? Comment with your thoughts below or join in the conversation on Twitter @UnAfraidShow.

NBA Playoffs 2019: Winners And Losers Through The Conference Semis

The 2019 NBA Playoffs have been a roller coaster of emotions. Wild, dramatic, and exciting are the adjectives that come to mind when describing these last couple of weeks in the NBA. From Damian Lillard’s buzzer beater and the Bucks’ dominance to the Celtics’ dysfunction and Sixers’ struggles, the NBA Playoffs have been must-see tv. Here are the winners and losers so far.

Winner: Kevin Durant

The best player in the 2019 NBA Playoffs has been Kevin Durant. As great as Kawhi Leonard has been, the Durantula has been on another level. Durant is averaging 34.2 ppg this postseason, which ranks first in the NBA. It’s not that he’s scoring buckets at will. It’s how he’s scoring. Durant’s offensive arsenal is never-ending and his wingspan reiterates the fact that his shot is unblockable. Right now, he’s the best player on Planet Earth.

Loser: Kevin Durant’s Calf

Every single fan’s heart skipped a beat. Reggie Miller convinced the world that Durant tore his achilles, but thankfully, it was only his calf. Knicks fans and the rest of the NBA can all breathe a sigh of relief. Please come back healthy, KD.

Winners: The Nuggets and Blazers

It’s never a good thing to lose a playoff series, but the Nuggets / Blazers series will have no true loser. Both Denver and Portland have exceeded expectations up to this point. For my money, Denver has the most complete team in the West, a franchise player in Nikola Jokic, and a budding star in Jamal Murray. No one predicted the Nuggets would be the 2-seed in the West and now they’re one win away from a trip to the Western Conference Finals. On the flip side, Portland is the perfect example of a patient front office. When teams lose in disappointing fashion in back-to-back seasons, the instinct is to either fire the coach or blow up the roster. The Blazers did neither and it’s worked out so far. Damian Lillard firmly planted his flag as a Top 5 point guard in the NBA and CJ McCollum is the perfect Robin to Lillard’s Batman. If the Blazers had a healthy Jusuf Nurkic, who knows how far they could have gone. I firmly expect the Blazers to win Game 6 and set up an intriguing Game 7.

Loser: The Thunder

The Thunder have ended their season in a disappointing first-round exit the past three years. Add in the fact that Damian Lillard sent the Thunder home on a 37-foot buzzer beater and things are not looking so hot in OKC. Is it time to hit the reset button in Oklahoma City? Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible. Westbrook, George, and Adams are all locked up on huge deals for the foreseeable future so it’s almost impossible to bring in a big name without trading one of those three players. The Thunder will have to change their style of play in order to improve next season.

Winner: LeBron James

Whether you love or hate him, the NBA Playoffs miss King James. It doesn’t feel the same without turning on the television every morning to see *insert sports show here* debating if LeBron was great or “just good” in a playoff win over the Toronto Raptors. The tv ratings say it all. LeBron moves the needle, and his absence in the playoffs emphasizes that the NBA needs LeBron more than LeBron needs the NBA.

Loser: The Lakers

The Lakers are not even playing games and yet, they’re still finding ways to lose.

Winner: Kawhi Leonard

Who, what, when, where, and KAWHI. At the top of the article, I stated that Kevin Durant is the best player in the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard is second. For all those who criticized Kawhi and the Raptors for utilizing “load-management” this regular season, you’re looking foolish right now. Kawhi is averaging a ridiculous 31, 8, and 3. In this series versus the 76ers, Kawhi has been a one-man wrecking crew who has been unstoppable at times. I expect a lot of teams to replicate Toronto’s “go all-in the year before a rebuild” strategy.

Loser: The 76ers Roster

Sometimes, you may have all the parts to make an engine run, but they’re not the right parts so the engine stalls. That’s exactly how I feel about the Sixers’ roster as currently constructed. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris will both be free agents this offseason so at least one of them will leave. However, the root of the problem lies with their two supposed star players, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. At times, Embiid and Simmons are the two best players on the floor. However, both are wildly inconsistent. Embiid is averaging 17, 7, and 3 while Simmons is averaging 9,7, and 4. Those numbers should not be coming from your core talent. Embiid is so gifted to a point where he can be the best center in the league, but his injury history is becoming a serious problem. Simmons is a gifted passer with unbelievable vision, but his inability to work on his jump shot is holding his progression back severely. Embiid likes to play in the post and step out for 3s when necessary. Simmons needs space in the middle to run pick-and-rolls as well as to push the tempo. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Embiid’s style and Simmons’s style are like oil and water. They don’t mix.

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Winner: The Bucks

Hats off to the Bucks. I picked Boston in 7 going into the series, and Milwaukee ended up gentleman’s sweeping the Celtics. The Bucks have been the best team in the Eastern Conference all year long led by the MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. Somehow, Mike Budenholzer is not getting enough credit for the Bucks season as well as Giannis’s transformation from a really good player into an MVP caliber talent. Now, the Bucks are one step away from the NBA Finals

Loser: The Celtics

When the dust settled, it turned out the Celtics could not turn it on when it mattered the most. The Celtics went to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they couldn’t even make it out of the second round with a healthy Irving and Hayward. Injuries and constant dysfunction led to their downfall. Brad Stevens had a bad year and could not manage all of these personalities. Jaylen Brown took one step forward while Jayson Tatum took two steps back. The Celtics completely lacked balance. Kyrie is a top 5 point guard in the league, but it’s looking like Boston should not be his home for the 2019-2020 season. The Boston Slam is over.

Who are your winners and losers of the NBA Playoffs so far? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @unafraidshow.