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ESPN picks Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard as top 2 players in the NBA

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks, Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

ESPN’s NBA Top 100 is consistent with Sports Illustrated’s, as both considered Milwaukee Bucks talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo the best player in the league for the 2019-20 season, with new LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard finishing as the runner-up for that title.

The argument was a similar one to SI’s — Antetokounmpo’s regular-season record and impact does have some weight, along with his Most Valuable Player award. The 6-foot-11, 222-pound freight train posted one of the best lines of his career, averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game — good enough for a 30.95 player efficiency rating, which ranked fifth in the league.

Despite his monstrous numbers, the lack of shooting acumen showed in the Eastern Conference Finals, which rendered him shy of a title shot.

Leonard — who won Finals MVP after a very memorable postseason that included consistent dominance and a buzzer-beating shot for the ages — sat out 22 games of the regular season, entering the playoffs considerably fresher than his competition and able to perform in heavy minutes.

The question remains if a player who can willingly rest for a quarter of the season deserves the title of best in the NBA, despite averaging career highs of 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds. To ESPN and Sports Illustrated, it seems like the answer is simply no.

The Klaw isn’t expected to get this type of rest with his new team, which can now put him in the position to compete against The Greek Freak in similar fields, hopefully giving a more straightforward comparison and determination of their overall value.