Playoff MVP Race: Giannis Antetokounmpo is the runaway No. 1

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Playoff MVP Race: Giannis Antetokounmpo is the runaway No. 1

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Playoff MVP Race: Giannis Antetokounmpo is the runaway No. 1

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With the culmination of the campaign, the time has come for the final 2020-21 NBA Playoff MVP Rankings article of our ongoing series, where we ranked the Top 15 players in the postseason MVP race weekly.

It should come as no surprise whatsoever who finished at the top of the list, or the players who finished just behind him, as the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns were great all playoffs long and were led by their respective superstars to the Finals.

Below, check out the final part of our playoff MVP series, as voted on by our team of writers.

1
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)

Playoff stats: 30.2 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.2 bpg, 56.9 FG%

Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t just great in the 2021 NBA Finals, he was spectacular, fantastic and borderline unbelievable, not just with his raw production but with his ability to step up and making unfathomable plays in key moments to help propel Milwaukee to their first championship in 50 years.

There was The Block.

There was The Dunk.

In just those two moments alone, it was hard to believe what you were seeing on your screen, plays so grand that if they were made in December, they would have been Play of the Year candidates. But to have them both come in the span of two games in the freaking NBA Finals?

That’s another level.

Antetokounmpo would average 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks in the Finals this year while shooting 61.8 percent from the floor, making him the first player ever to post a 35/10/5 stat line in the playoffs with plus-60 percent shooting from the floor.

The Greek superstar would save his best for last, too, exploding for 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in the championship-clinching Game 6, becoming the first player with a 50/14/5 stat line in the NBA Finals in the process.

We’ll have to wait to find out if this was a changing of the guard moment before Antetokounmpo runs off a string of championships and Finals MVPs, but for now, we’ll just have to appreciate what was undoubtedly one of the greatest championship performances in NBA history by a single player.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is our 2020-21 NBA Playoffs MVP.

For the latest Giannis Antetokounmpo rumors, click here.

2
Devin Booker (Phoenix)

Playoff stats: 27.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.0 3PTM, 44.7 FG%

It’ll come as little consolation to Suns fans or the player himself, but Devin Booker finishes the postseason with his highest position in our playoff MVP rankings, at No. 2 overall.

Booker answered a lot of questions regarding his ability to lead a team to great heights this year, and even though Phoenix wasn’t able to get the job done all the way, there’s no doubt Booker and Co. earned a ton of credit this postseason.

The former Kentucky standout posted back-to-back Finals games with at least 40 points in Games 4 and 5 of the series, doing so while shooting just 2-for-7 from three in that stretch, dominating in a throwback style, attacking out of the midrange and getting to the basket with aplomb.

Judging by their awesome overall 2020-21 campaign, the Suns, led by Booker, aren’t going anywhere, so count them of future contention chances at your own peril.

For the latest Devin Booker rumors, click here.

3
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn)

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Playoff stats: 34.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.6 bpg, 51.4 FG%

For the latest Kevin Durant rumors, click here.

4
Chris Paul (Phoenix)

Playoff stats: 19.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 8.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 44.6 3PT%

A lot will be made about this being yet another postseason failure for Chris Paul, with the Suns blowing a 2-0 Finals lead and losing four games in a row for the first time in 2020-21 at the worst possible time.

But that would be completely unfair to the Point God, who put up 21.8 points and 8.2 assists in the championship series while shooting over 52.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Still, it’s hard not to feel like this might have been Paul’s best and final chance at winning a championship, at least as a Top 2 option on his team and not in a Gary-Payton-on-the-2006-Miami-Heat manner, and he just let it slip through his fingertips.

Regardless, after the game, Paul made it clear he was not planning on retiring and that he was ready to get back to work ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Now, the questions shift to where Paul might be spending that league year, as the veteran floor general can hit free agency this offseason and there are already rumblings of the Los Angeles Lakers being interested in acquiring his services (via The Undefeated):

According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list. There have also been talks about Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook being a potential candidate to move back home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.

Paul proved beyond a doubt this year he’s got plenty left in the tank, so wherever he does end up next season, be it with Phoenix for another year or on another contender, we shouldn’t count out his chances of nabbing the ever-elusive ring that still haunts his legacy.

For the latest Chris Paul rumors, click here.

5
Khris Middleton (Milwaukee)

Playoff stats: 23.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.5 spg, 43.8 FG%

Bucks’ swingman Khris Middleton was so great in the Finals that he had various fellow players and multiple media talking heads campaigning for him to be Finals MVP, something that looks patently absurd after witnessing Antetokounmpo’s Game 6 performance.

Still, it’s hard to blame anyone for saying that – at least prior to Game 6 – considering how fantastic Middleton was in the championship-clinching series for Milwaukee, particularly in crunch time.

According to StatMuse, Middleton shot 75.0 percent from the floor in clutch situations (five-point game with fewer than five minutes remaining) in the Finals, scoring 18 points total in those situations. No other player in the series had more than four points in clutch time.

This year, Middleton became just the third player to put up a 23/7/5 stat line in the playoffs and not win Finals MVP, joining Kevin McHale and Anthony Davis on the illustrious list, proving how special and important his production as the Bucks’ No. 2 option was.

For years, many wondered if Middleton was good enough to be the second option on a championship-winning team… it’s safe to say now that those questions have been put to bed for good.

For the latest Khris Middleton rumors, click here.

6
Paul George (LA Clippers)

Playoff stats: 26.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 44.1 FG%

For the latest Paul George rumors, click here.

7
Trae Young (Atlanta)

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Playoff stats: 28.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 9.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 41.8 FG%

For the latest Trae Young rumors, click here.

8
Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers)

2021 nba playoff mvp race rankings rumors kawhi leonard luka doncic giannis antetokounmpo

Playoff stats: 30.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.1 spg, 57.3 FG%

For the latest Kawhi Leonard rumors, click here.

9
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia)

Playoff stats: 28.1 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 bpg, 51.3 FG%

For the latest Joel Embiid rumors, click here.

10
Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee)

Playoff stats: 17.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 8.7 apg, 1.7 spg, 40.6 FG%

His offense wasn’t the most consistent throughout the playoffs, but even so, Jrue Holiday – thanks to his stout point-of-attack defense and propensity as a steals merchant – was hugely impactful towards the Bucks’ championship.

That can be easily proven by taking a look at the former All-Star’s swing rating for the postseason, a +14.8 points per 100 possession mark for Milwaukee with him on the floor, a better clip than Middleton (+7.7) and even than Antetokounmpo (+8.0) for the postseason.

That’s obviously not to say Holiday was “better” than either of his two star teammates in the playoffs, but just to show how much of a positive impact he made despite shooting barely over 40 percent from the floor and under 31 percent from three for the playoffs.

There were many who wondered if Milwaukee gave up too much for Holiday when they acquired him last year, but once again, those questions can go away for good now, as his defense and timely scoring were absolutely vital to the Bucks’ championship.

Who knows if the Bucks would have made it this far without Holiday in the fold – he was that important to the team this year.

For the latest Jrue Holiday rumors, click here.

11
Luka Doncic (Dallas)

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Playoff stats: 35.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 10.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 49.0 FG%

For the latest Luka Doncic rumors, click here.

12
Nikola Jokic (Denver)

Expressive Nikola Jokic during a game

Playoff stats: 29.8 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.0 3PTM, 50.9 FG%

For the latest Nikola Jokic rumors, click here.

13
Deandre Ayton (Phoenix)

Playoff stats: 15.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 65.8 FG%

Suns big man Deandre Ayton saw his production and impact fizzle out a bit later on in the postseason, but his impressive early start to the playoffs and overall still-solid marks land him on this list in its final installment.

For it being his first time in the postseason, Ayton was beyond steady in his role, finishing just about everything down low and cleaning up on the glass monstrously on both ends. Even his short midrange jumper was going down at a noteworthy rate.

His game still needs some fine-tuning, but the young center has all of the tools to be an eventual All-Star in the NBA, and based on his 2021 postseason, Ayton may not be all that far from reaching that status very soon.

For the latest Deandre Ayton rumors, click here.

14
Donovan Mitchell (Utah)

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Playoff stats: 32.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 43.5 3PT%

For the latest Donovan Mitchell rumors, click here.

15
Damian Lillard

Playoff stats: 28.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 7.5 apg, 4.1 3PTM, 45.1 FG%

For the latest Damian Lillard rumors, click here.

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