LOS ANGELES — After a dominant MVP season in which he led the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA-best 60 wins, Giannis Antetokounmpo said he’s at only “60 percent” of what he can fully become.
Antetokounmpo said one of the biggest takeaways he took from the Bucks’ run to the Eastern Conference finals is that he has a lot more to work on despite averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals last season.
“There’s a lot of things I can improve on,” Antetokounmpo told ESPN after filming for the PUBG MOBILE Team Up Superstar Showdown event. “First of all, [I have to] look at myself before I look at anybody else. Try to self-improve as much as possible. There are a lot of things that I got to work on in my game.
“A lot of people say, ‘You are the MVP, you are one of the best players in the league, you are so dominant,'” he continued. “But I think I can get better. I think I am at 60 percent of my potential, as good as I can be. I just want to be better. If I am in the same situation again [in the conference finals], react better, play the game better, play better, execute better.”
Antetokounmpo, 24, shot 57.8% from the field but just 25.6% from behind the arc in the regular season. He felt like the Bucks were the favorites to win the Eastern Conference before falling in six games to the Toronto Raptors in the conference finals. The Bucks star said he liked the moves Milwaukee made in free agency, such as re-signing Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez and adding the likes of Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews. He also is excited about playing with his brother, Thanasis, who agreed to a two-year minimum contract with the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo has publicly and repeatedly voiced his adoration for the city of Milwaukee. When asked about potentially having one of the longest tenures with the same team someday, Antetokounmpo reiterated how important winning and being on the same page with an organization committed to winning a championship is to him.
ESPN reported in April that reaching the NBA Finals next season could help the Bucks to sign Antetokounmpo to a supermax contract in the summer of 2020.
“I’m going into Year 7, it’s insane,” Antetokounmpo said of his Bucks tenure. “… My goal is going to stay the same — it’s get better, take it day by day, step by step and the ultimate goal is to win a championship. As long as that we are all on the same page, and we are all focused on that goal, why not play for the Bucks 20 years, why not play 25 years? Why not after playing, be a member of the coaching staff or a member of the front office. But we got to have the same goal. We got to have the same principles … we got to focus on winning a championship.
“I want to be a part of a winning team,” Antetokounmpo continued. “As long as we have the same mindset and same approach to the game, there’s no reason for me to move and not be like Steph [Curry], not like be like Dirk [Nowitzki] or Kobe [Bryant] or Tim Duncan.”
Stars, though, are on the move more than ever, as this summer’s flurry of moves and trades have proven. Like the rest of the NBA, Antetokounmpo couldn’t believe so many of the free-agency transactions that have altered the landscape of the NBA.
“It’s insane, obviously, but it evens up the balance in the NBA,” Antetokounmpo said of watching stars such as Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Russell Westbrook all change teams. “You can see a lot of stars all over the place. Clippers, Lakers, Brooklyn, Sixers, Boston … it’s good.”
Despite several superstars changing addresses and forming formidable duos in some cases, Antetokounmpo still believes the best team will win a championship, like Toronto did. Milwaukee largely kept its main core and hopes continuity will help the Bucks reach the Finals next season.
Antetokounmpo said he wishes Leonard had actually remained in Canada instead of going to the Clippers with George.
“For me personally, I would love for Kawhi to stay in the East and stay in Toronto because I would love to go through the series [with them] again,” Antetokounmpo said. “But unfortunately, this is the NBA we are talking about. Moves happen, people change teams. But we got an opportunity right now. We got to take advantage of it, and hopefully, we can seize the opportunity and make big things happen.”
“It’s insane,” Antetokounmpo added of all the changes this summer around the NBA. “Like people ask for a trade and a trade happens. Players ask for a trade, ‘I want to get traded there,’ and players go there. It’s insane. A lot of star players have a lot of power right now. This is the league we live in. I think it’s good to control your own destiny and your own career.”