James Harden has quickly risen as Giannis Antetokounmpo’s biggest threat for the Most Valuable Player award, but Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has a bulletproof argument to counteract those who favor The Beard over The Greek Freak:
“What is the most valuable player? He sets the tone for our entire organization, our work ethic, our approach to every day,” said a clearly biased but thoughtful Budenholzer, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “You can talk about stats and Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal and things. But when you’ve changed an entire organization, changed the way people come to work every day and set a tone, that’s value to me.”
Harden has the scoring streak of 31 games scoring 30 or more points in his favor, but Antetokounmpo is leading his team in scoring, rebounding and assists — posting a monster line of 27.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.
Perhaps it is The Greek Freak’s two-way play which gives him a slight advantage over Harden’s offensive heroics, along with the best overall record in the league, which the media will be forced to look at before making a decision:
“I feel like he’s the most valuable player in our league,” said Budenholzer. “He’s changed things in Milwaukee. He’s changed them for the better. We’re one of the best teams because of Giannis.”
Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has praised Harden’s game and called him a lock for MVP. Budenholzer, while usually not all that outspoken, has been succinct and unequivocal in his support for Antetokounmpo, rather letting the wins do the talking.