It's been a weird start to the NBA season, highlighted by a marquee Los Angeles Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks matchup last night featuring two teams struggling to maintain .500 basketball. Giannis Antetokounmpo used the national stage to make a statement and send a reminder that he is the reigning NBA Finals MVP and could very well earn those honors several more times during his career, scoring 47 points on 18-for-23 shooting. He looked very much like the player who climbed to the top of the mountain mere months ago by sheer brute force. He looked, perhaps for the first time, completely locked in.
Speaking on this morning's First Things First, Nick Wright spoke to how terrifying a sign this should be for teams not named the Bucks. Because right now Antetokounmpo has both the talent and drive to decide to win any damn game he wants to win. We saw it last night after seeing it time and time in last year's playoffs. It's still quite early but it may have been the moment Milwaukee woke up and got series about the business of defending a title.
It feels weird to say that people forget about Giannis but it does feel a bit like they forgot about Giannis. Which says more about his team stumbling out of the gate than it does about him personally because his production has been almost identical to last season's. It is a single game and an 7-8 record suggests there are problems to iron out yet Bucks fans should be comforted by the muscular, ferocious performance. All things equal, I'd still bank on Milwaukee over any other team.
A compressed NBA schedule comes with a hangover. An engaged Antetokounmpo is just what the doctor ordered.