Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is a trendy pick for the NBA MVP award this year, and it's not hard to see why.
A year after leading his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, Antetokounmpo looks poised to be even better this season, which is a scary thought for opponents.
However, the Greek Freak isn't ready to say he's on the same level as Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James - a player he has a lot of respect for.
After the Bucks lost to James and the Cavs 116-97 on Friday night, Antetokounmpo said he's not on James's level just yet, calling him one of the best players ever to play in the NBA (via ESPN.com):
"I'm not on that level," Antetokounmpo said. "LeBron James is one of the best players in the league, and one of the best players to ever play the game. It's great going against him, but I don't think about that."
Even in the loss, Antetokounmpo held his own, scoring a game-high 34 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dishing out eight assists and picking up three steals.
The Greek Freak loves to have fun on the basketball court, but he admitted before Friday's game that he's taking things more seriously now and hopes to lead the Bucks further into the postseason this time around:
"I think my mentality," Antetokounmpo told ESPN's Dave McMenamin before Friday's game. "The way I approach the game. The way I approach just a simple practice. That's my mentality.
"I take this more serious. I'm not taking this for granted no more. I think my rookie (year) I was just having fun. I was 18 and I was living the American dream. Now, I think it's like, it's time to like work hard and achieve goals and do whatever it takes for your team to win. So I think my mentality has changed since my rookie year."
Even LeBron thinks Antetokounmpo has what it takes to be great. Kobe Bryant challenged the Freak to win the MVP award this season, and LeBron says that's not out of the realm of possibility:
"Well, I think at the end of the day, it's all about team success," James said. "That's what we all want. I'm not here to piggyback on what someone else has challenged him on. That's for him and his teammates and the response that he had from Kobe. But he has the skill set, he has the talent and he has a great coach that can help him get to that point."
The Bucks still have a long way to go if they want to challenge the Cavs in the Eastern Conference, but with Antetokounmpo playing the way he is, anything is possible.