NBA awards: Antetokounmpo wins MVP, Doncic top rookie

NBA awards: Antetokounmpo wins MVP, Doncic top rookie
By Reuters

25/06/2019 at 06:22Updated 26/06/2019 at 09:11

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo became the second European player to be selected the NBA's Most Valuable Player, winning the honor on Monday night at the league's awards show in Santa Monica, Calif.

Luka Doncic, the No. 3 overall selection who was traded to the Dallas
Mavericks on draft day in 2018, won the Rookie of the Year Award.

Antetokounmpo, a 24-year-old from Greece, joins Germany's Dirk Nowitzki
(2006-07 Dallas Mavericks) as European NBA MVPs.

The only other non-United States players to capture the honor were Nigeria's
Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94 Houston Rockets) and Canada's Steve Nash (2004-05 and
2005-06 Phoenix Suns). In addition, two-time MVP Tim Duncan (2001-02 and
2002-03 San Antonio Spurs) was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Antetokounmpo received 78 first-place votes, well ahead of the 23 for fellow
MVP finalist James Harden of the Rockets, last season's winner. The third
finalist, Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder, received no first-place
votes.

"Two, three years ago, I had the goal in my head, that goal to be the best
player in the league," Antetokounmpo said. "I'm gonna do whatever it takes to
win, and I'm going to win MVP. And every time I step on the floor, I think of
my dad, and that motivates me to play harder and move forward even when my
body is sore, I don't feel like playing, I'm always going to show up and I'm
going to do the right thing."

"The Greek Freak" averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks
and 1.3 steals in 72 games.

Bucks general manager Jon Horst, who was selected the Executive of the Year on
Monday, said in a statement, "We are beyond proud of Giannis for earning his
first MVP award. This well-deserved honor is due to his relentless hard work
and dedication in becoming the most impactful player in the NBA. Giannis
propelled the Bucks to great heights last season with his leadership, drive
and unselfish play. His grace on and off the court has made him one of the
most admired players in the world."

Antetokounmpo also was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, which went
to Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert for the second year in a row. George also was
a candidate for the defensive honor.

Doncic received 98 of the 100 votes, with Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks
getting the other two. The third finalist was the top pick in last season's
draft, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton.

"First of all, I want to congratulate Trae and Deandre for amazing seasons,
and not just them, but the whole rookie class. I think it's amazing, and we
can make something big," Doncic said while accepting the award.

Named Most Improved Player was power forward Pascal Siakam of the NBA champion
Toronto Raptors, who won the award over fellow finalists De'Aaron Fox of the
Sacramento Kings and D'Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets. Like Doncic,
Siakam ran away with the award, receiving 86 out of 100 votes.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams was chosen the Sixth Man of the Year
for the third time, matching Jamal Crawford for the most times winning the
award. The only other two-time winners of the Sixth Man award were Kevin
McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf.

The other finalists for the Sixth Man award were Williams' teammate Montrezl
Harrell and the Indiana Pacers' Domantas Sabonis.

Coach of the Year went to the Bucks' Mike Budenholzer, who beat out fellow
finalists Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers and Michael Malone of the
Denver Nuggets.

Doncic, a 20-year-old guard who averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0
assists in 32.2 minutes per game, is Dallas' second Rookie of the Year winner,
joining Jason Kidd, a co-winner with Grant Hill in the 1994-95 season. Doncic
played in 72 games last season.

Young, a point guard, averaged 19.1 points, 8.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds in
30.9 minutes per game last season. He played in 81 of the team's 82 contests.
A year ago, Young, the No. 5 overall draft pick in 2018, was dealt from Dallas
to Atlanta along with a 2019 first-round pick in exchange for Doncic.

Siakam averaged 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists over 31.9 minutes
and played in 80 games. ESPN noted that Siakam, a third-year player whom the
Raptors drafted with the 27th overall pick in 2016, increased his point total
by 9.6 points per game over the 2017-18 season, the biggest gain by any player
to have played in 40 games in the consecutive seasons.

Williams, 32, put up 20 points, 5.4 assists and three rebounds per game in 75
appearances in 2018-19, starting just once.

Budenholzer, 49, led the Bucks to a 60-22 record in his first season in
Milwaukee, their best record since going 60-22 in the 1980-81 season. The
16-win improvement over the previous season was the best mark in the NBA this
season and earned the Bucks the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They
lost to the eventual NBA champion Raptors in six games in the conference
finals.

Budenholzer also won Coach of the Year in Atlanta in 2015 after leading the
Hawks to a 60-22 record in his second of five seasons with the team.

--Field Level Media

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