Throughout the NBA 2019-20 season, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been in contention for the NBA MVP award. Before the NBA suspended the season due to the coronavirus outbreak, Giannis Antetokounmpo had been on his way to his second straight NBA MVP award while leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a league-leading 53-12 win-loss record. While LeBron James and the Lakers are following closely, Giannis Antetokounmpo has proven his gameplay on both sides of the court.
With the opposition sending multiple defenders to block him, Giannis Antetokounmpo has managed to find middle ground. The reigning NBA MVP has always found an open man, averaging at 5.8 assists per game this season. Using his ability to cover the court in long strides, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the perfect ball-handler for the Bucks.
He has also worked on his three-pointers, shooting 30.6% from the deep this season as compared to last season's 25.6%. This season, Giannis is averaging 30.9 minutes per game while scoring an average of 29.6 points. If Giannis wins the NBA MVP award this season, he will hold the record for the fewest minutes ever averaged by any MVP in a season. James Harden, who is leading the scoreboard, also averages at 36.7 minutes.
While LeBron James is direct competition to Giannis Antetokounmpo, the latter's defence has been better. While Giannis Antetokounmpo is off the court, the Bucks allow 7.7 more points per 100 possessions, while the Lakers allow only 3.6 points when LeBron James is off the court. Though LeBron James is averaging at 25.7 points per game with career-high 10.6 assists per game, his average game time is over 34 minutes. If the NBA does not return, Giannis Antetokounmpo could be the only player to win an NBA MVP award while playing 30.9 minutes per game.
In a straw poll conducted, Giannis beat James by a margin of 50 votes in the first place for the MVP award. The survey was conducted with 70 media members who cover the entire league. Giannis earned 60 of the 70 possible votes for first place, while James won 10.
As per NBA commissioner Adam Silver's latest statement, the NBA will be suspended for at least a month. However, as per the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) recommendation of avoiding gatherings of 50 or more people for the next two months, the NBA's return could be pushed forward to June. Even then, the league might play games without an audience.