In an era of increased player movement and contract flexibility, it's become more common to see stars link up and play together, but that's not for everybody.
Especially Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Greek Freek has lifted the Milwaukee Bucks to a 20-9 record this season, with no other All-Stars on his roster, thanks largely to a new offensive system from coach Mike Budenholzer and role players stepping up on any different night, complimenting the nightly highlight reel performances of their star forward.
The Bucks are one of the most exciting teams in the league and their success will depend on how far Giannis can take them, but the 24-year-old is more than fine with that responsibility.
"You don't have to have a lot of (stars)," Antetokounmpo told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck. "I definitely think that, because I think we have great pieces in this team, and every guy in this team knows what his role is and is having fun and is enjoying his role. And that comes from the coach. You know, if the coach gives you confidence, gives you the green light and tells you what your role is and you accept it as a player, and you're happy with it, that's big for every team. I don't think anybody on this team wants to do more, wants to do less."
Antetokounmpo is averaging 26.8 points per game, 13.1 rebound and six assists this season, leading the Bucks in scoring, rebounding, assists, free throw attempts and field goal percentage, taking the lions share of the offensive burden, but the two-time All-Star believes that numbers won't define him, but the success of his squad, who look on track to make some noise in the post-season.
"Definitely, I want to be one of the best players to ever play the game," Antetokounmpo said. "That's why I play the game, that's why I work hard every day. I don't take days off. But at the end of (the) day, it's all about winning … And I know that if I'm in that mindset - I'm not chasing stats, I'm not chasing individual awards - I know it's going to come. Because I have enough talent, I have great teammates that are going to help me achieve all that stuff by winning."
Leave alone teaming up with players, Giannis was vocal about his views on even working out with fellow NBA stars in the summer, telling Eric Nehm of The Athletic that he was invited to play pick up in New York alongside Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and others, but politely declined the invitation.
"They wanted me to come, show up, and play and I was like, 'No. I'm good,'" Antetokounmpo said. "'Thank you.'"
"I can't work out with you in the summer and then play you in a few months," he added. "It feels weird. It doesn't feel right with me. Like other players, it's cool for other players, but I don't. I don't want to. Other guys do it.
Antetokoumnpo's leadership and growth in that area has been arguably the most impressive part of his stat stuffing season so far, but he is getting plenty of help from the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, who can all excel as his #2 on any given night, with Giannis doing a great job of attracting double teams in finding open shooters.
"Ever since I was a little kid...I could find the open guy." - @Giannis_An34 pic.twitter.com/cprl9kouwv- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 19, 2018
Despite the pressure of having every defence zero in on you every night, Giannis has stood tall against the best players and the best teams in the league so far this season, getting the best of Joel Embiid, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokic and Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors, leading his team to victories against each of their teams.
He'll get another chance to test his MVP credentials against Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, when they square off at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight availble for FREE on NBA League Pass.