Giannis Antetokounmpo's goal for offseason after MVP and Defensive Player awards: Get better

Winning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, puts Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, at the age of 25, in an exclusive club with Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. But Giannis' theme for the offseason and next year remains getting better.

Amit Kamath September 19, 2020 09:33:05 IST
Giannis Antetokounmpo's goal for offseason after MVP and Defensive Player awards: Get better

File image of Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo taking a shot against the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the 2020 Eastern Conference Second Round match-up. AFP

For a man who has just won his second successive Most Valuable Player Award ― not to mention a Defensive Player of the Year Award as well ― Giannis Antetokounmpo talks about getting better a whole lot. Never mind that winning the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season puts him, at the age of 25, in the exclusive company of Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.

“Going to the next year, there are so many other things I want to do better,” Antetokounmpo told journalists on a conference call from Athens right after being announced as the MVP. “I want to be a better jump shooter. Improve my free throws. I want to be able to find my teammates better (with my passes). Know where they are at any time when I am on the court. (I want to) Understand the game better. See what works for me, and what does not. I cannot just go on the court and do everything. I have to be efficient. There’s so many things!”

You would do well to remember that this is a player who has just come off a regular season where he’s averaged 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds ― both metrics where his tally has risen season after season, from his rookie year in 2013-14.

Last season, when he was awarded the MVP trophy he had famously asked not to be called the MVP unless he wins the award again. This time around, he told Ernie Johnson of TNT, “Don’t call me MVP until I’m a champion.”

Moments later, while facing journalists on a conference call, Antetokounmpo was asked what the difference between winning MVP last year and this year was.

“Your first time is always special. It’s like your first year in the NBA. The first time you make your first point in the NBA,” he said. “I’m happy tonight, but I always look forward to figure out how I can get better. How can I do it again? How can I do it for multiple years to come? How can I be a champion?”

That last question will be the central plot of Antetokounmpo and the Bucks’ offseason. Reports earlier in the week had said that the Greek star had held a three-hour lunch with the Bucks owner to discuss the way forward for the team. Should Antetokounmpo choose not to sign a contract extension this offseason, he would enter free agency in 2021.

The team, and Antetokounmpo, needs reinforcements, as apparent by the five-game ouster at the hands of Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in the Orlando bubble. It was a tepid end to a team which led the regular season across both conferences in terms of wins and had Championship ambitions. The team had faltered in the Eastern Conference Final to the Kawhi Leonard-led Toronto Raptors in the previous season.

Interest in his future is understandably high. On the conference call with journalists, he revealed little about his future plans, saying that he wanted to keep details of his conversation with the ownership and coach Mike Budenholzer private. He did say that he left the three-hour lunch meeting feeling “encouraged” about the future of the Bucks.

“The mission is to be successful. I had a great conversation with the owner. As long as we’re on the same page and want the same thing, which is a championship.” he said before falling back on his preferred theme for the evening: getting better.

“Every team’s got to improve, you have to be better from last year. If you did not win the whole thing, you got to get better. If you win the whole thing, you got to get better and win the whole thing again. For now, our team has got to get better.”

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