Earlier this summer, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant issued out a challenge to the Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the 2017-18 NBA MVP award. As of writing, he looks well on his way to doing so.
So far in the 2017-18 season, the forward is averaging career-highs in both points per game and in rebounds per game, as across 22 games played so far, he has averaged 29.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. He's well on his way to potentially being crowned this season's MVP.
The Greek Freak is having a season to remember, as the Bucks look like they're going to qualify for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in over ten years. Antetokounmpo's MVP style performances should take most of the credit for this as he looks set for another All-Star call-up.
This is on top of the fact that last season, he became the first NBA player to ever finish in the top 20 in all five major statistical categories; points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. The best part? He's only 23-years-old. 23!
This season more than ever, Antetokounmpo is showing the world he has the potential to be one of the greatest players of all-time, if not, the best player of all-time, and many players at the top of the NBA believe that, including Kevin Durant.
The Warriors star said of the Bucks star in a Q&A video posted on his YouTube channel back in October this year: "The Greek Freak I think is a force, and I've never seen anything like him. And his ceiling is probably—he could end up being the best player to ever play if he really wanted to. That's pretty scary to think about. But he's by far my favorite player to watch."
Antetokounmpo can become the best player ever to play if he manages to do these three things.
Improve his shooting
If there's one aspect of Antetokounmpo's game which he needs to improve the most, it's his shooting. He shot 27 percent behind the arc and 34 percent on long two-pointers last season, which isn’t good enough.
He doesn't need to be the best shooter in the league or even a fantastic shooter, as both of these figures are worse than what LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers has ever done in a single season and many people consider him to be one of the best players of all time.
James was only 33 percent on three-pointers during his MVP season of 2007-08, so if the Bucks star is able to improve his current career average of 27.7 percent to around 32 or 33 percent, there's no reason why his shooting should further hold him back from being in the conversation of best ever.
Win a Championship and an MVP Award
An MVP award could be on it's way to the Bucks star this season, no matter how well his team does in the Finals. He's showing he can pick up the award through domination of his franchise, just like Russell Westbrook did last season. He could become the first Bucks player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to win an MVP award, and that is quite some company.
The biggest setback for Antetokounmpo could be that he never wins an NBA Championship because of the current climate in the NBA. While the Eastern Conference's quality is slowly diminishing, the Western Conference looks stronger than ever, with super teams like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The path to the Finals, barring getting past the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics and avoiding injuries, looks pretty clear for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The real challenge outplaying whichever West team they face in the Finals to earn that win. Doing this multiple times would give him solid ground to stand on in the argument of best player of all time.
In truth though, he'll need the final thing on this list to make the other two points easier to accomplish.
Find another playmaker
Yes, you could make the case that Antetokounmpo already has another playmaker on the court now thanks to the Bucks trading for Eric Bledsoe from the Phoenix Suns earlier this season, but he's never received an All-Star call-up in his career. He's yet to live up to his potential.
That could all change this season, but there's no harm in the Bucks going out there and trying to find another playmaker to help out The Greek Freak. That way, they'll not only be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, but they'll also be able to keep up with the super teams in the West.
Antetokounmpo can't do everything on the court by himself, and forcing him to do so could actually limit his potential, as opposing defenses know there's really only one player they need to focus on to shut down the Bucks. Adding another playmaker gives them someone else to think about, giving the 23-year-old relief and space to improve and thrive.
Do all this, and of course, avoid injury, and there's no reason why we can't be calling Antetokounmpo the best player ever by the time his NBA career comes to an end.