There are many tiny intricacies about the NBA that one must follow on a day-to-day basis in order to establish a respected argument that is contrary to popular opinion. For example, one must be entirely devoted to observing the Raptors if they were to construct an argument on how Toronto could beat Golden State in a seven game series in June. This would be, to say the least, a difficult argument to present, considering how great Golden State has been for the last half decade.
With that being said, there is absolutely no complexity to this argument: Giannis Antetokounmpo is currently the NBA's most valuable player.
THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS, 2018 EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND DEFEAT
The Greek Freak has led the Bucks to a 10-4 record (2nd in the Eastern Conference), and is averaging a fucking ridiculous line of 26-13-5.5. Those are Hakeem Olajuwan-esque numbers that are being produced by a do-it-all point forward who is as speedily elegant as he is graceful with his strength.
The transcendent play of Giannis isn't the only thing that has been adjusted from last season's Milwaukee Bucks, they also have a new coach in town.
Head coach Mike Budenholzer, formerly the Atlanta Hawks head coach who's a part of the Spurs coaching tree (All hail, Pop!), has instituted a new pace-and-space offense that has allowed the Freak an ample amount of room for newer, more open driving lanes. Coach Bud has proved to be the league's most valuable coaching addition, as he has transformed the Bucks into arguably the league's most lethal offense (1st in PPG at 121, 2nd in offensive rating at 116.1).
The efficiency of having a nearly 7 foot gazelle prance down the lane at blurring speeds has been equipped by career shooting bests from Milwaukee's other wings Khris Middleton and Malcom Brogdon. Oh, and Brook Lopez is jacking up triples now too, and he's fucking wet-balling a good amount of them.
All five of Milwaukee's starters (Giannis, Brogdon, Middleton, Bledsoe, and Lopez) are shooting 45% or better from the field. Contrary to popular belief, Giannis has been the least efficient shooter in their most effective lineup.
Although he's shooting a horrific 7.1% from beyond the arc, and a less than spectacular 69% at the line, Giannis is making up for his shooting woes by relentlessly attacking the rim. He's attempted 56% of his shots this season from within three feet of the basket, and is making 80% (!!!) of those at-rim attempts. (For comparison's sake, 2012-13 Miami LeBron made 77% of at-rim attempts).
While Giannis continues to improve his shooting woes, and Budenholzer continues to implement more effective play calls, the Bucks will be working their way towards being able to man handle the East with the Freak's stupid big hands.
THE PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, 2018 WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND DEFEAT
Not many things have changed in Portland over the last several years. They still maintain their same core of Lillard and McCollum supported by role players (Aminu, Nurkic, and Turner). The consistency provided by the Trail Blazers front office has allowed the squad to mesh together in a way that is paying dividends early in the 2018-19 season.
Portland is currently second in a stacked Western Conference, with a 10-4 record. Their offense ranks in the top five in the league, and their defense is just inside the top ten as well. This balanced attack has allowed Damian LIllard to have his best season to date, #RIPCITYontheyass as Lillard's Instagram suggests.
While Lillard is having a career year averaging 26-5-6, he's been supported by the young big Zach Collins who has made significant strides in his sophomore season. Collins has proved to be a valuable defender as a big who can switch on ball-screens and make guards uncomfortable with his quickness and length.
The Trail Blazers may not be the most thrilling team in the league, but they have proven to one of the most effective and efficient squads so far this season. Head coach Terry Stotts has implemented an offense with far more spacing that utilizes flare screens nearly every possession, allowing his shooters to get more breathing room for their in-rhythm hitters (Seth Curry, Dame Dolla, Jake Layman, and CJ).
Although the Blazers have suffered early exits in the past few seasons, they look to make their most impressive run yet with a revamped offense that still contains the same integral pieces that they've succeeded with in the past.