Giannis: I'm only at '60 percent of my potential'
NBA.com Global on Jul 15, 2019 07:15 AM
FILE - MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 12: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots a free throw against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 12, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA.com staff report
The summer of 2019 has been full of firsts for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
He won his first Kia NBA MVP award, released his first signature sneaker with Nike and won his first ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete of the Year.
But despite all of this hoopla, the 24-year-old remains focused on improving his skills on the court.
"A lot of people say, 'You are the MVP, you are one of the best players in the league, you are so dominant,'" Giannis told ESPN on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). "But I think I can get better. I think I am at 60 percent of my potential, as good as I can be. I just want to be better. If I am in the same situation again [in the East finals], react better, play the game better, play better, execute better."
Antetokounmpo averaged career-highs with 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals over 72 games during the regular season. With Antetokounmpo leading the way, Milwaukee won an NBA-best 60 games and started the playoffs 10-1 before losing four straight games to the Toronto Raptors in the East finals.
If Antetokounmpo had his way, the Bucks would have had a chance to redeem themselves against Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors this upcoming season. But that won't be possible after Leonard decided to sign with the LA Clippers this summer.
"For me personally, I would [have loved] for Kawhi to stay in the East and stay in Toronto because I would love to go through the series [with them] again," Antetokounmpo said. "But unfortunately, this is the NBA we are talking about. Moves happen. People change teams. But we got an opportunity right now. We got to take advantage of it, and hopefully we can seize the opportunity and make big things happen."
The 2019-20 season will be critical for the Bucks as Antetokounmpo is eligible to sign a super-max extension with the team next summer. Antetokounmpo has been clear that contending for championships is his biggest goal and he sees no reason to do it with a city other than Milwaukee.
"My goal is going to stay the same: It's get better, take it day by day, step by step, and the ultimate goal is to win a championship," Antetokounmpo told ESPN. "As long as that we are all on the same page and we are all focused on that goal, why not play for the Bucks 20 years, why not play 25 years? Why not, after playing, be a member of the coaching staff or a member of the front office? But we got to have the same goal. We got to have the same principles. ... We got to focus on winning a championship.
"I want to be a part of a winning team," Antetokounmpo continued. "As long as we have the same mindset and same approach to the game, there's no reason for me to move and not be like Steph [Curry], not like be like Dirk [Nowitzki] or Kobe [Bryant] or Tim Duncan."
The city of Milwaukee honored Antetokounmpo with a celebration for his MVP award on Sunday (Monday, PHL time).
MVP!— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 14, 2019
The Bucks retained All-Star Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill in free agency this offseason and added Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews and Thanasis Antetokounmpo -- the eldest of the family, who has played professionally in Greece for the past two seasons.
The loss of Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers likely will hurt the team's depth. But if Antetokounmpo is only at 60 percent of his potential, then there's no limit to how good the Bucks can become.
Introducing the Zoom Freak 1.@Giannis_An34’s debut signature shoe honors his Greek heritage, while designed for his freakish speed, power and control.— Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) June 28, 2019
Arriving on https://t.co/QytNJeB2G4 July 1. Available in the U.S. July 10: https://t.co/2xA4Z49TC5 #zoomfreak1 #giannis #nike pic.twitter.com/IdbkHxcZwt