Giannis Antetokounmpo is the MVP of the fourth season, and much sooner the first NBA awards


Giannis Antetokounmpo put on dazzling statistics and brought the Milwaukee Bucks to their best start from 1990-91. (Benny Sieu / USA Today Sports)

The first quarter of the 2018-19 NBA season was an unpredictable turn – and turbo. The pace went up, the score reached the highest levels for the post-Jordan era and the playoff images in both conferences remained obscure at best, as contenders such as Houston and Boston collapsed and the inhabitants of the wineries, including Sacramento and Orlando surprised.

To help us overcome this dizzying start, let's look at the main awards races and distribute some first-quarter hardware. These selections are designed exclusively to reflect the games played until Wednesday, rather than as a screening of the winners at the end of the year. Here is the first part, which touches the most precious player, defensive player of the year and coach of the year. The second part will include the debutant of the year, the sixth man of the year and the most improved player. (Note: all statistics and rankings until December 4th).

Most valuable player

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo | 2. LeBron James | 3. Kevin Durant | 4. Joel Embiid | 5. Anthony Davis

While the NBA intelligentsia took years to caress the "unicorns" – centers that could protect the circle and shoot the three – emerged an even more rare prototype. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo crushes, blocks and bounces as a center, defends multiple positions as a versatile forward forward, runs on the field as a wing and, above all, performs an offensive juggernaut as a playmaker. In the modern game of peace and space, dominated by ballhandlers and creators, this combination of skills makes the Pegasus of the NBA 6-to-11 Antetokounmpo.

It took years of gradual improvements for Antetokounmpo to move from a rough project to an improved player to an all-star and now to the MVP leader at the start of 2019. Finally inserted into a spaced offensive system which allows him to attack the paint at will, Antetokounmpo is producing superhuman results. His baseline (27.6 points, 13.2 rebounds, six assists per game) has never been equaled in the history of the NBA, and ranks among the top five in the standings in terms of score, rebounds, wins and score of player efficiency. More importantly, his sensational individual game has translated into a team success like never before: Milwaukee boasts the highest point of the NBA and the most efficient offense, and the often overlooked franchise has begun at best since 1990-91.

The great defect of Antetokounmpo is obvious: he still has to master the three-pointer, pulling an anemic 11.5 percent on a high number of attempts after getting the green light from the new coach Mike Budenholzer. This hole could reach him in the playoffs, but he was rewarded brilliantly doing more damage than ever in the basket area, pulling a whopping 80.1 percent from less than three feet. Last year, Antetokounmpo ranked fifth in the NBA with 161 dunks. Through 22 games in the new five-inning Milwaukee offense, he had already crashed 99 times, putting him at a pace of more than double his production last year.

In turn, this constant threat to the rim created a devastating drive-and-kick game, with Milwaukee leading the standings in three points per game and Antetokounmpo with an average career assist. Thanks to this combination of top-shelf finishing and high-efficiency shooting for others, Antetokounmpo elaborates the conventional wisdom that modern filmmakers need to be able to shoot.

LeBron James tests the package of MVP trackers, with typically excellent numbers (27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.7 assistants per game), a new narrative as the savior of L.A. and a two-headed impact on victory. Consider: The Cavaliers are on track to win 18 games after winning 50 with James last year, while the Lakers are running for 49 wins this year after winning just 35 last year. Even the nit-pickers who point to the increasingly lax approach of James in defense must admit that there are not many players in the history of the NBA that could potentially swing 46 wins combined with just one summer decision.

Kevin Durant remains one of the most complete, lethal and consistent talents of the league, Joel Embiid has somehow emerged as an Ironman, and Anthony Davis has been as destructive as ever, despite the erratic start of his team. After missing time soon, he looks for Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard to gain momentum in the MVP conversation as the season unfolds.

Defensive player of the year

1. Robert Covington | 2. Paul George | 3. Joel Embiid

Wings rarely win this prize because it is usually difficult for voters to argue that an elitist perimeter player can match or exceed a center high when it comes to a defensive impact. The so-called "defenses of a single man" in recent years are almost always great men like Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green, Embiid and Marc Gasol.

For now, the Robert Covington of Minnesota represents a fascinating counter-example. The selection of the first completely defensive 2018 team has helped transform the Timberwolves defense since joining Jimmy Butler in mid-November. Minnesota, which ranked 28th in the defensive standings, has improved to the second since Covington. If Tom Thibodeau had a laboratory to create his dream actors, Covington would create a natural prototype: tireless, physical, intelligent, versatile and implacable. With teams playing faster and using multiple sides without a position this season, perhaps Covington will emerge as a new model for the defensive player of the year.

Paul George and Embiid are proving to be the linchpins for greedy defenses in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia, respectively. Like last year, George is among the leaders of the championship in skid and deviations for a defense Thunder which is currently in first place in the league, although Andre Roberson has not yet returned from injury. Meanwhile, Embiid is one of the league leaders in rebounds and blocks for a 76ers unit that occupies seventh place. Perhaps the most impressive thing, the center of 7 feet is on average 34.5 minutes of career per game and has yet to miss a game.

Coach of the year

1. Mike Budenholzer | 2. Rivers Doc | 3. Dave Joerger

Milwaukee's first success under coach Mike Budenholzer should serve as a cold shower for fans and the media who are obsessed with the free NBA agency, spending countless hours of forecasting, predicting and analyzing the movement of off-season players . Outside of James and Leonard, what summer additions can claim to have had a greater impact on their new organizations than Budenholzer?

The Bucks (15-7) have the appearance of a real contender thanks to a leading league attack built around Antetokounmpo and a top 10 defense. While Budenholzer's formula is not rocket science, it was magical. Removing the bodies from the paint and practically giving everyone the green light to shoot from the depths, he revised the selection of the Bucks shots and freed Antetokounmpo to do what he does best. Budenholzer's long track record and his recent success in Atlanta seem to have earned him immediate respect in Milwaukee's locker room, which appears collectively more serious and more aligned than in previous years.

Doc Rivers deserves credit for forging the anti-Clippers from the wreck of "Lob City". With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan all gone missing, the newly created Clippers (16-7) hovered near the top of the leaderboard and contradicted the negative stereotypes of the franchise. Instead of being held back by interpersonal clashes and falls of intensity, the other The Los Angeles team is devoid of ego and infinitely energetic. Instead of building with a top-heavy roster construction, the Clippers are deep, reaching the opponents in waves and with the highest bench in the league. And instead of relying on cornerstones prone to injuries, the Clippers have so far enjoyed excellent health and continuity of line-ups. A favorable program has helped, but Rivers has L.A. as a team of surprise play-offs.

A Tuesday night sun burst was a good mile for the progress of the kings under Dave Joerger. Expected by most analysts to fight Phoenix for the worst Western Conference record, Sacramento (12-11) has scored a winning record despite an incredibly young roster and more than a decade of recent futility. Joerger was rewarded for delivering the keys to De & # 39; Aaron Fox and speeding up the pace, since the Kings compensated for the core of a forgettable wing and the jumble of young big men for pure speed and electricity. The 44-year-old coach also deserves bonus points for the degree of difficulty, as a member of the Sacramento front office started fishing for Joerger's ouster.

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