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Should Giannis Antetokounmpo stay with the Milwaukee Bucks?

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Thursday 21 May 2020 10:46, UK

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points, 12 rebounds and six assists ato rout the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. 4:44
Ovie Soko and Mo Mooney debate whether Giannis Antetokounmpo should leave the Bucks to pursue greatness

Giannis Antetokounmpo has said he is chasing greatness. Can he achieve it as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks?

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The 'Greek Freak' has given no public indication he has any plans to leave the Bucks, who are in a position to offer him a five-year 'Supermax' contract extension this summer worth in the region of $250m.

Antetokounmpo's belief he can win an NBA championship in Milwaukee will be one of the key factors in his decision to re-sign with the team that drafted him in 2013.

The Bucks (53-12) own the NBA's best record and the No 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Should the 2019-20 season resume, Antetokounmpo will have the opportunity to win his maiden title. But what if the season is cancelled and that chance is lost?

The future of Antetokounmpo was up for discussion on the latest edition of Heatcheck, where regular guests Ovie Soko and Mo Mooncey shared their thoughts on the defending regular-season MVP.

preview image 3:22
Mo Mooncey looks at the surprising amount of similarities between Giannis Antetokounmpo's career so far with that of LeBron James

Asked whether Antetokounmpo's championship dreams are best served by staying with the Bucks or moving to a new team, Soko said: "I would try to build a legacy of my own [in Milwaukee]. [We are in] an era where the superstars are moving around a lot and it seems to be something everyone is doing. It would make Giannis unique if he stays put in Milwaukee.

"If it means enough to him, Giannis will stay put and stick it out. Some players have stayed put and suffered for it and not been able to win a championship. It depends on what means more to him. Is it about going somewhere where [winning a championship] becomes easier for him?

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"If he goes somewhere else, he can definitely win a championship, 100 per cent. If he was to move to Golden State, it's a no-brainer he would win a championship. But the key question is, 'can he win the championship where he is?' For me, with a talented guy like Giannis, the challenge is to win where you started off.

"This is what it comes down to when you are talking about greatness. You can move teams and win championships and it is all good. But after you have won those championships and it comes to the 'greatness' discussion all these players are after, it becomes a factor. LeBron aside, guys who moved teams and win 'chips' are never going to be in those conversations about the players who are the 'elite of the elite' ever to play the game. I feel like Giannis has that opportunity."

Giannis Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks. 4:50
Take a look at the best plays from Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks from the 2019-20 NBA season

Mooncey said Antetokounmpo's faith in his Bucks team-mates can help him deliver an NBA title will inform his decision to stay or go.

"Are you looking at Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe as two guys who are going to help you win an NBA title or [would you rather play alongside] a Pascal Siakam or Stephen Curry?", Mooncey asked.

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"At the end of the day, as cool as it is to stay with one franchise and be loyal, people forget that back in 2007 Kobe Bryant demanded a trade away from the Lakers. People remember how your career ends, not what happened along the way.

"When LeBron retires, will people remember him changing teams or will they remember him being a dominant force? You could try to play your hand like Dirk Nowitzki, who stayed with the Dallas Mavericks and won a title in 2011, but that's not guaranteed. That was a unique situation that happened for him.

Giannis Antetokounmpo throws down a dunk against the Charlotte Hornets 1:56
Giannis Antetokounmpo posted the first 40-point, 20-rebound game to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the Charlotte Hornets

"With Giannis, his prime years are ahead of him but you don't want to waste those years playing with team-mates who won't be able to help you win that championship. No one can win a championship on their own."

While some degree of doubt surrounds Antetokounmpo's future, Soko and Mooncey agreed his defence of the regular-season MVP award is assured.

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"The Lakers are clearly the most dominant team in the West and the Bucks are clearly the most dominant team in the East," said Mooncey. "But LeBron James has Anthony Davis on his team helping him out whereas with Giannis, there is more responsibility on him.

"They are both putting up great numbers but I think Antetokounmpo runs away with it."

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Soko agreed: "There was a lot of discussion about LeBron James. His production at his age is just crazy. He has clearly proven that he is still great. But I think it will be Giannis again.

"Numbers-wise and with everything he has been able to do, he is the clear winner for me."

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