Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo named NBA MVP over James Harden

You forget that Giannis Antetokounmpo is only 24 years old.

The Milwaukee Bucks forward became the 10th-youngest Most Valuable Player in NBA history when results were revealed at the third annual NBA Awards Show on Monday in Santa Monica, California. Antetokounmpo ended Houston Rockets guard James Harden’s reign to win what many now believe will be his first of multiple MVP honors in his career. Harden and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George were the other finalists.

A panel of 100 media members comprise 50 percent of the vote for NBA awards. Players and fans split the remaining 50 percent. Results will be made available.

The Bucks star is the youngest recipient since Derrick Rose became the youngest winner ever at the age of 22 in 2011. The rest of the list of 10 youngest MVPs in history, based on age at the end of the regular season, is a Hall of Fame ledger:

Derrick Rose (2011): 22 years, 191 days

Wes Unseld (1969): 23 years, 9 days

Bob Pettit (1956): 23 years, 92 days

Bob McAdoo (1975): 23 years, 193 days

Wilt Chamberlain (1960): 23 years, 201 days

Lew Alcindor (1971): 24 years, 14 days

Moses Malone (1979): 24 years, 16 days

Bill Russell (1958): 24 years, 28 days

LeBron James (2009): 24 years, 104 days

Giannis Antetokounmpo (2019): 24 years, 125 days

16 PHOTOS
Giannis Antetokounmpo through his career
See Gallery
Giannis Antetokounmpo through his career
BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 27: Giannis Antetokounmpo shakes hands with NBA Commissioner, David Stern after being selected number fifteen overall by the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, 2013 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 27: Giannis Antetokounmpo poses for a portrait after being selected during the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 27, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dec 11, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reaches for a rebound during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. San Antonio won 109-77. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 20, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against New York Knicks forward Quincy Acy (4) in the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives past New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith (8) in the 4th quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight (11) celebrates withy guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and center Zaza Pachulia (27) after shooting the game-winning three point basket in the final seconds against the New York Knicks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks beat the Knicks 101-98. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 12, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots the ball as Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams (8) defends in the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks in the third quarter during the game against the Denver Nuggets at BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks beat the Nuggets 92-74. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
December 18, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Brandon Rush (4) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) in the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after scoring a basket in the second quarter during the game against the Houston Rockets at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 3, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) looks to pass against Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 18, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dribbles the ball past Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) in the first quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Greek basketball players, brothers Thanassis (L) and Giannis (R) Antetokounmpo attend an event at the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens, Greece, June 24, 2017. Picture taken June 24, 2017. REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis
Oct 20, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks the basket in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Everyone else on that list but Rose went on to win a championship, six of them won multiple MVP honors in their careers and five of them won more than one title. This is the company Antetokounmpo now keeps, where the odds are in his favor to win this award again and pair it with at least two championship rings, barring injury.

Antetokounmpo finished the regular season just 21 days older than when LeBron James won his first of four MVP honors. Within three years, James was a three-time winner and a first-time champion. That is now the standard for Antetokounmpo.

This season ended in disappointment after his Bucks won an NBA-best 60 regular-season games. They led the Toronto Raptors 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals and 105-103 in the second overtime of Game 3, but Kawhi Leonard neutralized Antetokounmpo in winning four straight games en route to a title and Finals MVP.

The Raptors exposed Antetokounmpo’s one true weakness in the playoffs, building a wall of defenders to ensure he would have to beat them from the perimeter. He didn’t, and he vowed afterward to The Athletic’s Eric Nehm that he would come back a more efficient perimeter playmaker in what will be his seventh NBA season.

“And it’s something from Year 5 to Year 6, I was like, ‘Yeah. OK, I put on seven pounds of muscle. Bro, I’m the most dominant guy in the f---ing league. I’m just going to go and f---ing dunk it,’” he told Nehm in the aftermath of the loss to the Raptors. “You can get away with it to a point. It’s good if you’re able to do it, but I gotta be more skilled. I gotta get back to my old self. Think like a guard, not as a big.”

In the regular season, when Antetokounmpo faced fewer dominant defenses designed to stop him, he was the game’s most dominant two-way player — a freakishly athletic 6-foot-11 specimen playing any and all positions on both ends of the court. His 27.7 points on 17.3 field-goal attempts (64.4 true shooting percentage) and 5.9 assists against 3.7 turnovers per game made him a more efficient offensive player than Harden (36.1 points on 24.5 shots per game for a 61.6 true shooting percentage and an average of 7.5 assists against five turnovers), who used almost 10 percent more of his team’s offensive possessions this season.

Throw in Antetokounmpo’s 12.5 rebounds and 2.8 combined blocks and steals per game, along with his unrivaled ability to defend from the rim to the perimeter with what seems like a single step, and he was the anchor of the NBA’s best defensive team in the regular season. It is no wonder he was also a Defensive Player of the Year finalist, threatening to join Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win league MVP honors and the top defensive award in the same season.

Jordan was 25 years old when he accomplished that feat. Olajuwon was 31. You should be starting to get the sense that Antetokounmpo is joining some rarefied NBA air, and he’s not even old enough to rent a car without incurring a youth tax.

This is all reassuring financial news for Antetokounmpo, who was already in line for the largest contract in NBA history in 2020 — a projected five-year, $247 million supermax extension from the Bucks. According to ESPN’s Malika Andrews, a trip to the Finals next season could be the deciding factor in his decision to commit to Milwaukee for the long term. And as we all know, speculation about a player’s free agency two years before he hits the market is the true mark of a modern superstar.

– – – – – – –

Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

More from Yahoo Sports:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.