Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Paul Pierce had no hesitation in naming Giannis Antetokounmpo as the 2019-20 NBA MVP over LeBron James.
Appearing on ESPN’s NBA Countdown, Pierce cited Antetokounmpo’s season-long dominance as the main reason he deserves the honor over James (starting at 5:55 mark).
Antetokounmpo seemed to have control of the MVP award from the start of the season. He was in the midst of a historic year when the NBA suspended play in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Milwaukee Bucks superstar was averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the team with the league’s best record (53-12).
Both players may be able to settle the MVP debate in games later this summer. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported the NBA board of governors are expected to approve a return-to-play plan for late July on Thursday.
Per Basketball Reference, Antetokounmpo’s 31.63 player efficiency rating in 2019-20 is the seventh-highest single-season mark in NBA history.
James was starting to close the MVP gap before play was paused. He has the Los Angeles Lakers sitting atop the Western Conference standings (49-14) and leads the league with a career-high 10.6 assists per game, along with 25.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest.
In consecutive wins over the Bucks on March 6 and Los Angeles Clippers on March 8, James put up a combined 65 points, 17 assists, 16 rebounds and shot 19-of-38 from the field.