Home / Sports / Kia MVP Ladder: AntoKounmpo, updated Bucks ready for next step forward
This is the main reason he moved to the top of the week’s Kia Race to MVP Ladder. He has spent a lot of time on the list in the last two seasons, but usually out of the top 5 because of Buck’s lack of team success.
But with what is now new with Budenholzer’s new appearance, the Greek freak is free to sort through the various drawings that can lead him to the finish line of this marathon.
* * *
The 5 best in the week 1
edition of Kia Race  2018-19 Kia Race to MVP Steps:
* * *
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo did everything in a big win against Warriors.
Last week: No. 3
Seasonal statistics: 25.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 blocks
Antetokounmpo lives nightly on his “Greek Freak” persona, fills up the statistics sheet and collects jerking loudspeakers in every turn. The difference this season is that his work will be under a renaissance during first year’s coach Mike Budenholzer, whose changes have made wonders for both his best players and the roster as a whole. Look no further than Bucks’ (surprisingly) route of Golden State Warriors Thursday night at the Oracle Arena. Antetokounmpo led the way with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assistances, two blocks and two stalls when Bucks pushed Warrior’s eight-game win over a night that saw Warrior’s star Stephen Curry leaving the game early with an adductor injury. It was not Bucks sole statement to win during this early stretch of the season but it was easily their biggest so far and sent a message to the rest of the league that what they found so far from Antetokounmpo and his crew is very very real.
2nd Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry finished 28 points against Timberwolves.
Last Week: No. 1
Seasonal Statistics: 29.5 points, 6.1 assists, 5.0 rebounds
The collective thrill you heard late on Thursday night Warriors Nation responded to the message that Curry, after just 26 minutes, was made for the night after suffering a light damage. An assortment of injuries is the only thing that has lowered curry down in recent seasons. The warriors have managed to handle without Curry earlier and will undoubtedly be able to do this this time (if necessary). But the two-hour Kia MVP was out to a raucous start to this season and needed nothing to get in the way of what had the potential of another monster MVP campaign. The warriors really felt their absence on Bucks, which restricted Curry to just 10 points on 5-to-14 photography (0-for-4 on 3 pointers) before leaving the floor for the locker room. Meanwhile, the warriors can only wait for words from medical staff on Curry’s situation. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Kawhi Leonard was a power against the king earlier this week.
Last Week: No. 2
Seasonal Statistics: 26.0 Points, 8.0 Returns, 3.3 Helps
About This NBA Best 11-1 Season has seen Leonard working at half-speed, he becomes comfortable in the coach Nick Nurse’s system – as Leonard claimed after Wednesday’s victory against the Sacramento Kings – It’s scary to think how good Raptors will be when Leonard finally finds his track . As it says, Leonard has worked beautifully in the Raptors engine this season and all-star point-protection Kyle Lowry makes his own MVP case. Raptor’s depth at each position has enabled them to maintain an elite level with or without Leonard on the floor so far this season. (Toronto easily managed the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz on their current road trip without Leonard in the mix because of a foot injury). He returned to the line in the victory in Sacramento with an effective 25 points, 11 rebounds and two assists. The true beauty of his fit with the Raptors is that he has managed to fit in without problems without even knowing the efforts and systems in the system. ]
4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard delivered an all-round performance in a win against Clippers.
Last week: No. 5
Seasonal statistics: 26.6 points, 5.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds
Trail Blazers have won three straight games and six of their last seven ride the wave like Lillard and his backcourt mate , CJ McCollum, has created with his attacking style early this season. Blazers has done something that is often difficult to do in this league: improve dramatically without an infusion of star talent. Much of what works for them right now is the comfort of continuity. Without leaders like Lillard and McCollum, maybe a young like Zach Collins may not have the power to contribute the way he has in his second season. But with the tone set in the offseason, there is no confusion about the roles that each Blazer has. Lillard remains the true catalyst, the alphabet if you want, and the man loaded with finishing as he did on Thursday night at Moda Center against LA Clippers. The bench rack will be useful when Boston Celtics gets to town on Sunday night for a duel between two of the game’s best finishers in Lillard and Kyrie Irving.
5. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis finished 32 points and 15 rebounds against the bulls.
Last week: No. 4
Seasonal statistics: 24.4 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 3.3 blocks
Davis should be the easiest player in the league to evaluate game bets because of how the Pelicanians bottom line is on him. And it’s not his achievement that dictates their fortunes because he works at the highest level in the usual. It is his availability which is the true measure of the Pelican. They lost six straight games after a 4-0 start this season, a picture that coincided with an elbow elimination, which cost Davis three matches and sapped the entire group of much of the early energy. Davis turned into a 32-point, 15-rebound, four-block masterpiece in Wednesday’s victory over Chicago, snapping the losing streak and snapping out of an individual funk on the same night. Davis missed his first five shots against the bulls before making a rifle and scored eight straight to send his first 30-point game since 23 October. The pelicans were desperate for a victory in their first match at home after a ugly 0-5 drive. If you subscribe to the theory that the true meter for a player’s value for his team is how they go without him or when he has something less than full strength, Davis must be on a short list of the most valuable players in this league.
* * *
The next five
6. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
7. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
8. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
9. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
And another five: DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
* * *
Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can email him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .
The comments on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.