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Giannis Antetokounmpo on defending his MVP: 'I think I am at 60 percent of my potential'

Ben Weinrib
Yahoo Sports Contributor

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a simple request for his fans as he celebrated his MVP trophy Sunday at an event in front of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Fiserv Forum: Please don’t call me MVP after today.

It wasn’t so much a show of humility as much as it was a way to drive himself.

Antetokounmpo believes he’s just tapped into his potential and will be even better in 2019-20, when he could become the 12th player to repeat as MVP.

Antetokounmpo logged career-highs across the board last season with 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists on 57.8 percent shooting. He led the Bucks to a league-best 60 regular season wins, and he won’t turn 25 until December.

But that is not enough for him.

“A lot of people say, ‘You are the MVP, you are one of the best players in the league, you are so dominant,’” he said on Saturday, via ESPN. “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, react better, play the game better, play better, execute better.”

The prospect of an even better Antetokounmpo is downright scary. He’s already shown he can quickly improve when he grew from a 6-foot-9, 196-pound project into a 6-foot-11, 242-pound basketball machine, but this could only be the beginning.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will look to defend the MVP trophy in 2019-20. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

What would a better Giannis even look like?

Throughout his six years in Milwaukee, the Bucks have tried Antetokounmpo all over the court. He’s been a small forward, point guard and power forward, but he seems most comfortable as a big man surrounded by shooters.

Antetokounmpo could be fine just refining his post moves, but he could completely expand his game with a finer shooting touch.

Last season, Antetokounmpo attempted a career-high 2.8 triples per game, and although he only shot 25.6 percent, opponents still had to respect the shot. He's no Ben Simmons. Getting that figure up above his career average of 27.7 to a career-high in the 30s would make him nearly impossible to guard by pulling defenders out as he stands beyond the arc.

Antetokounmpo could also stand to be more cautious with the ball, as his 3.7 turnovers per game were a career-worst. Even though that was paired with a personal best in assists, his 1.58 assist-to-turnover ratio was his worst since his second season in the league.

Of course, playing better for Antetokounmpo may just mean winning more games. There’s no doubting that the Bucks have room to improve; falling in the Eastern Conference finals to the Toronto Raptors left a bitter taste in their mouth. And with Kawhi Leonard leaving for the West Coast, the Bucks will enter next season as heavy favorites to win the East.

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