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Milwaukee Bucks

Are we taking reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for granted?

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): 50 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a win over a tough Utah Jazz team. Giannis Antetokounmpo is terrorizing the league right now.

The Milwaukee Bucks advance to 14-3 - the best record in the Eastern Conference and second-best record in the NBA - with this statement win.

Many consider the Greek Freak the MVP front-runner but he doesn't seem to be drawing the attention that Luka Doncic, James Harden and LeBron James are.

Are we starting to take the reigning MVP for granted?

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Absolutely.

Giannis has entered the territory of being so great that we don't even blink twice when he puts up absurd stat lines.

While it's the ultimate compliment to just expect greatness from someone, at the same time, it can be construed as taking him for granted because… he's doing some ridiculous things.

Irving: The Jazz are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They're playing at the calibre of an NBA Finals-type team. They knocked down a franchise-record 21 3-pointers. And it simply did not matter.

Antetokounmpo is on a tear this season and no one can slow him down. He's doing this with ease.

Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Without Rudy Gobert in the lineup, Giannis feasted at the rim against the Jazz, but his ability to just take over games whenever he feels like is getting ridiculous. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and was a monster on defence.

McGregor: I mean, take a step back and think about it… you can pencil him in for 31, 14 and 6 assists on a NIGHTLY BASIS.

It's unreal. It's not normal.

I think what's working against his favour is the narrative. Like this is what he's supposed to be doing. With LeBron, it's that he's 35 in Year 17. Luka's 20 in Year 2. And as for Harden, he's just doing things from a scoring perspective that we haven't seen.

For Giannis, it seems like we expect the reigning MVP to do big things. But let's not forget that we're still a little over a week away from his 25th birthday. Like, this is only going to get scarier, right?

Irving: It's definitely going to get scarier.

He knocked down another three 3-pointers tonight. Like you just said, you can pencil him in for six assists on a nightly basis. Those are both areas of improvement from last year's MVP season to what he's been doing so far this season.

Kidane: Especially in the Eastern Conference, where the Bucks will likely win 55+ games again this season. What would it take for him not to repeat?

Irving: I think LeBron keeping this up all year and leading the Lakers to the No. 1 seed could prevent him from repeating. Same goes to Luka if he leads the Mavericks to a top-three seed in the West.

It's crazy to think Harden averaging over 40 a game probably couldn't even stop Giannis from earning back-to-back MVPs.

McGregor: Yeah, I'm kind of sensing the same thing.

Like you said, Giannis is improving upon an MVP season for the books but I can see him getting outdone by either one of Luka or LeBron. If either of their performances throughout the season lead to one of their respective teams outperforming preseason expectations.

But, to be fair, I have an easier time envisioning Giannis sustaining this high of a level throughout the entire year. And that's no disrespect to Doncic or James, because a slight regression would be MVP-level play, it's just an 82 game season.

Kidane: While Giannis is stuffing the stat sheet, how much of this is due to Khris Middleton's absence? Will we see him put up these type of numbers once his All-Star teammate returns?

Giannis' usage rate is up to 36.1 percent this season and 38.9 percent in the seven games Middleton has missed due to injury.

Irving: Those usage rate numbers are pretty eye-opening. I didn't realize it has increased that much since Middleton went out of the lineup.

I think that definitely plays a factor, but he was still posting similar numbers to this even when Middleton was in the lineup. Even when his usage rate goes down, he still finds a way to put up around 30, 15 and 6. It could be less attention from the defence, but it could also just be he becomes more efficient too.

I don't think Middleton's return to the lineup will slow him down enough to hinder his MVP chances.

McGregor: It's crazy that I almost forgot about the fact that he's been without his All-Star teammate for a while and they seemingly haven't missed a beat.

That just factors into the narrative we spoke of with what we expect of Giannis.

It would seem that things would only get easier for The Greek Freak once Middleton rejoins the lineup and he'll continue to stuff the stat sheet, with lower usage, meaning he'll break even less of a sweat.

They're on track to repeat - or even exceed - their regular season success from last season (they were 13-4 through 17 last year), meaning he would be the main catalyst of the leap. If that's the case, the MVP trophy should most definitely be his again.

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