It took him a while but eventually, Giannis Antetokounmpo got the worldwide praise and recognition he deserved. He went from being an unknown, lanky foreign player to an NBA champion and a Finals MVP.
The Greek Freak is now one of the faces of the league and a perennial candidate to win both Defensive Player of the Year and MVP year in and year out, leading the Milwaukee Bucks in nearly every major category.
That's why former NBA standout Kenyon Martin thinks Giannis has reached LeBron James' status. Per Martin, Giannis is the only player who could be an MVP candidate on a yearly basis.
NBA News: Kenyon Martin Says Giannis Antetokounmpo Is The New LeBron James
"Listen, Giannis is the new LeBron," Martin said. "He can be in the MVP convo every season. And the only reason you don’t give it to him is because someone else is playing out of their mind that season. So yeah a lot has to happen before they’re the favorites over Milwaukee."
Martin Says No One Is Beating The Bucks
Moreover, Martin also believes that no one can take down the reigning champions right now. Albeit the East is stacked with talent and the Nets are an interesting team, it'll take time before they can reach the Bucks' level:
"I feel like Milwaukee is still the favorite to come out the East, but Brooklyn has the potential to if a lot of things come together very quickly," Martin said. "But that takes time. But the East is stacked. Can’t count out Miami can’t count out Chicago. But if I’m picking someone right now, I would say Milwaukee."
"They have proven what they can do, and they have just improved since winning it," elaborated Martin. "Giannis is a better version of the Giannis we saw last year who dominated throughout the playoffs and won a championship. And they just added Serge Ibaka. They defend, they execute, they’re flowing. Brooklyn, you have to get everyone acclimated to the system, Ben, Seth, Drummond, KD still out. They have a lot that has to come together."
The Milwaukee Bucks will be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference for as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is locked and loaded. But the East looks up for grabs this season and even the reigning champions will need to be flawless to get the job done.