The Los Angeles Lakers set a franchise record after winning again on the road, while Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic made NBA history.

LeBron James posted 26 points and defending champions the Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-99 on Wednesday.

The streaking Lakers (10-3), who have won four successive games, improved to 7-0 away from home this season – surpassing the 1985-86 team for the best start on the road.

James has had at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in all 13 games this season. In the last 30 years, the only NBA player to have a longer streak of 15/five/five games to start a season was James himself in 2011-12 (22 straight), according to Stats Perform.

Lakers team-mate Montrezl Harrell had 21 points, while Anthony Davis put up 18 points and seven rebounds in Oklahoma City midweek.

Doncic became the first player in NBA history to post 34 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks, two steals and five threes made, per Stats Perform.

The Mavericks went on to win 104-93 and snap the Charlotte Hornets' four-game winning streak.

Mavericks star Kristaps Porzingis returned from a knee injury and scored 16 points in his first appearance since undergoing surgery in October.

 

Red-hot Giannis fuels Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo's triple-double guided the Milwaukee Bucks past the Detroit Pistons 110-101. The two-time reigning MVP finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his 20th career triple-double.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum put on a show as the Portland Trail Blazers prevailed 132-126 against the Sacramento Kings. Lillard (40 points and 13 assists) and McCollum (28 points and 10 assists) became the first team-mate duo in NBA history to have 25-plus points, 10-plus assists and five-plus three-pointers made in the same game, per Stats Perform. They are also the first duo in the NBA to have 25-plus points, 10-plus assists and one or fewer turnovers in the same game since 1987.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker starred with 37 points, but the New Orleans Pelicans still lost 111-106 to the Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi Leonard (28) and Paul George (27) combined for 55 points in the Clippers' win.

The Memphis Grizzlies topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-107 behind Jonas Valanciunas' 24 points and 16 rebounds.

 

Knicks duo struggle

The New York Knicks did not get much support from their two starting point guards in a 116-109 loss to city rivals the Brooklyn Nets. Austin Rivers was three-of-10 shooting from the field and two-of-five from three-point range for eight points in 34 minutes. Elfrid Peyton was just three of 11 from the field, while making just one of three-point attempts as he finished with seven points in 33 minutes.

 

Nurkic says no!

There was no way past Jusuf Nurkic as the Trail Blazers big man denied Glenn Robinson III in the fourth quarter.

 

Wednesday's results

Dallas Mavericks 104-93 Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks 110-101 Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets 116-109 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 118-107 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Lakers 128-99 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Clippers 111-106 New Orleans Pelicans
Portland Trail Blazers 132-126 Sacramento Kings
Utah Jazz-Washington Wizards (postponed)
Orlando Magic-Boston Celtics (postponed)
Atlanta Hawks-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Rockets at Spurs

As James Harden reportedly heads to the Nets, the Houston Rockets (3-6) will look to cast the chaos aside when they face the San Antonio Spurs (6-5) on the road on Thursday.

Seven players hit double figures as the Philadelphia 76ers surged to 6-1 while Malcolm Brogdon landed an overtime winner as the Indiana Pacers take up chase in the East.

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia remain ahead of the pack after a second-quarter flurry helped to sink the Charlotte Hornets, 118-101, with Tobias Harris leading the scoring on 22 points.

Joel Embiid (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (12 points and 10 rebounds) played key supporting roles with double-doubles as the 76ers continue to fly high.

Indiana improved to 5-2 in a 118-116 thriller against the New Orleans Pelicans after Brogdon capped his double-double with the clutch OT winner, while Victor Oladipo top scored for the Pacers with 25 points.

In-form Pelicans duo Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson combined for 55 points in the loss, as Ingram scored 31 and Williamson recorded a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Orlando also stayed in the hunt for top spot as Aaron Gordon (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (23 points) inspired the Magic to move to 5-3 with a 103-83 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Malcolm Brogdon hits the game-winning floater in OT as the @Pacers pick up their 5th W of the season!

Brogdon: 21 PTS, 7 REB, 11 AST
Victor Oladipo: 25 PTS, 6 AST
Brandon Ingram: 31 PTS, 8 AST
Zion Williamson: 24 PTS, 10 REB pic.twitter.com/XfWbcMXemJ

— NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2021


Doncic, Giannis go off as Mavs and Bucks win

Luka Doncic dominated with 33 points and a triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks ended the Houston Rockets’ winning streak with a 113-100 win.

Doncic added 16 rebounds and 11 assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr shot for 30 points to boost the Mavs. Houston's Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and a returning James Harden all put up more than 20 points.

Patrick Williams took pride in guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, even though the rookie could not stop the NBA's reigning MVP from delivering a stellar performance against the Chicago Bulls.

Antetokounmpo recorded 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as he helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a 126-96 victory on Friday.

Milwaukee had seven players in double digits, and they hit 22 three-pointers. No team has hit more treble scores through the first six games of a season than the Bucks' tally of 108.

Despite the heavy defeat, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was happy with the performance of Williams, who on his sixth appearance was tasked with the unenviable challenge of shadowing Antetokounmpo.

"I'm sure internally inside of himself he's probably saying, like, 'Wow, last year I was playing in college, the year before that I was in high school'," Donovan told reporters.

"It's a lot for a young player to handle. But he's got to kind of get thrown to it, and he's gotta learn it and experience it. But his attitude and his disposition, whatever you put in front of him is always the same."

Reflecting on his game, 19-year-old Williams said: "My chest is on fire right now just from the shoulders that [Antetokounmpo] gave me.

"I was just blessed to be in this opportunity for sure. Of course, we wanted to win the game, but now that we didn't win, we can learn from it.

"He doesn't really compare to any other guy that I've had to guard yet this season. But the next time we play them, I hope to guard him again and do better.

"Being able to guard somebody like that in my sixth game of the season, it means a lot. It means a lot that coach trusted me to guard him pretty much the entire game when I was out there. It shows the trust that he has in me and the trust that I have to have in myself. It means a lot for sure.

"I want to guard the best player every night. It's just the person that I am. I want to be the guy that always guards the best person. So, if I want to be that guy, I've got to learn from it. It's just a blessing."

Last month, Antetokounmpo signed an extension reportedly worth $228.2million (£170.1m) – the largest deal in NBA history.

Averaging 23.5 points per game, he has helped the Bucks – who have a home series against the Detroit Pistons up next – to three wins this season.

"I'd say the growth in my game comes from being less stubborn," Antetokounmpo told a postgame media conference.

"Keep your team-mates involved, got to look at the bigger picture. Being less stubborn, sacrificing for my team-mates."

"Some nights, the basketball gods are with you a little bit." That is how Mike Budenholzer described the Milwaukee Bucks' record-breaking 144-97 victory over the Miami Heat.

The Bucks set the NBA record for three-pointers made in a game with 29 as they gained some revenge against the Heat in Miami on Tuesday.

Milwaukee and Miami met for the first time since last season's playoffs, which saw the Heat surprisingly eliminate the Bucks in five games in the Eastern Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort.

But the Heat – without injured star Jimmy Butler – were no match for the Bucks, who were 29 of 51 from beyond the arc to surpass the record set by the Houston Rockets (27) in 2019.

Bucks head coach Budenholzer, whose team are eyeing their first championship since 1971, told reporters: "Some nights the basketball gods are with you a little bit, and it's probably one of those nights for us."

While it was a quiet outing for two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (nine points, six rebounds and six assists), his Bucks team-mates led the way.

Khris Middleton posted 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, while he was four of five from three-point range in Milwaukee's largest road win in franchise history.

Jrue Holiday added 24 points, including six of 10 threes, Donte DiVincenzo (17 points) was five-of-six shooting from beyond the arc and Brook Lopez (14 points) contributed three of his own three-pointers.

"I knew we were shooting well," said Bucks center Lopez. "I didn't know we were anything close to that."

The Bucks were coming off a shock 130-110 rout at the hands of the New York Knicks.

But Milwaukee tied the record for the second-largest road win (47) in league history against a team that made the NBA Finals the previous season, behind the 1986 Seattle SuperSonics (56), per Stats Perform.

According to Stats Perform, the Bucks (2-2) also became the first team in NBA history to have two 35-plus point victories from their first four games of a season, having previously crushed the Golden State Warriors 138-99.

"Honestly, [we] just played hard," Holiday said. "We know the Heat way and how they're going to come out and play no matter who's playing.

"So we just wanted to take that approach."

Christmas is a time for giving, and the NBA is no exception as fans feast on presents, turkeys and live basketball.

This year marks the 73rd edition of the NBA on Christmas Day, having started playing games in 1947 – the league's second season.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will be on show – the defending champions the headline act against Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks.

The Brooklyn Nets will be spearheaded by Christmas Day specialist Kevin Durant when they lock horns with the Boston Celtics, while Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat will be hoping for another Merry Christmas as they go head-to-head against Zion Williamson's New Orleans Pelicans.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – fresh off signing a mammoth supermax contract – will lead the Milwaukee Bucks against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, and Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers will seek to avenge their stunning capitulation against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals.

We look at the best stats and facts on Christmas Day in the NBA using Stats Perform data.

 

361 – James has the most career points on Christmas Day among active players, ahead of Durant (270), Russell Westbrook (241), James Harden (208) and Carmelo Anthony (186). All-time, James ranks third and he needs 17 points to surpass Oscar Robertson (377) for second place and 35 to leapfrog Kobe Bryant (395) for first place. The four-time NBA champion and MVP, who helped the Lakers snap their 10-year title drought in 2019-20, is also second for most career rebounds among active players on Christmas, behind former team-mate Dwight Howard (114) with 108.

97 – Lakers superstar James tops another category… assists. The 35-year-old is clear of Westbrook (82), Harden (58), ex-team-mate Rajon Rondo (55) and Curry (48) among active players. James is set to make his 14th appearance on Christmas Day. He has a 9-4 win-loss record while averaging 25.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. James is one win behind Dwyane Wade's record.

20 – Durant has scored at least 20 points in nine consecutive Christmas Day games, the second-longest streak in NBA history behind Robertson. The latter had 20-plus points in 10 straight games from 1960 to 1969. Durant has averaged 30.0 points in nine games on Christmas – an average only bettered by Anthony (31.0) among active players.

7-0 – Heat head coach Spoelstra is yet to lose in his seven Christmas Day contests. If last season's NBA Finals runners-up Miami win, Spoelstra will tie Phil Jackson for the longest Christmas Day streak by a head coach to start his career. The Heat have an NBA-best 10-2 record in games played on Christmas Day, while they have won seven successive games.

22 – The Lakers are playing on Christmas for the 22nd successive season, the second-longest streak in league history. The New York Knicks top the list following 38 straight appearances. The Lakers have the most all-time wins on Christmas Day with 23.

6 – Six players have recorded a triple-double in a Christmas Day game – Draymond Green (2017), Westbrook (2013), James (2010), Billy Cunningham (1970), John Havlicek (1967) and Robertson (1960, 1961, 1963 and 1967).

60 – Bernard King holds the record for most points scored on Christmas Day. King registered a 60-point haul for the New York Knicks against the New Jersey Jets in 1984.

23 – The Pelicans' JJ Redick shares the record for most three-pointers on Christmas Day, alongside Houston Rockets star Harden. James and Durant have both made 22 shots from beyond the arc.

7 – Nets guard Kyrie Irving holds the record for most steals in a Christmas Day game following his performance for the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Warriors in 2016.

1-5 – Of the current NBA franchises, the Nuggets have the second-worst record on Christmas Day, just ahead of the Toronto Raptors (0-2). Since 2010, the Nuggets are 0-3 – the worst run.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was "upset" at his inability to guide the Milwaukee Bucks to victory in their NBA season-opener against the Boston Celtics but insisted he would learn from the experience.

Antetokounmpo was playing his first regular season game since signing a new five-year supermax contract worth a reported $228million but fluffed his lines at the death by missing the second of two free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining.

In a frantic finish, Antetokounmpo scored with the first of two shots from the line but the second bounced off the rim and away to safety as the Celtics edged it 122-121.

The two-time MVP finished with 35 points and 13 rebounds in an otherwise impressive display and vowed to learn from the experience.

He said: "I'm upset about it, but you can't change it. So it's done.

"Hopefully when I'm in the same position, I can make the next one. That's the mentality you've got to have. But obviously there's a little bit of a weight on your shoulders [in those situations] because, if you miss, that's it for your team.

"I'm a winner, and I want to do whatever it takes for my team to win. But, you know, you learn from every situation that basketball puts you in.

"I want to be in those moments. I want to [have the ball] down the stretch. I want to shoot the last two free throws, I want to shoot the last shot, because if you think about it, if you do that a thousand times, some of the times it's going to go in. Some of the times, you're going to be the hero.

"And some of the times, you're going to miss. But you learn from it."

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was full of praise for Antetokounmpo for putting himself in that position, saying: "I love that he's there, game on the line, opening night, going to the free throw line.

"He's been working on it. He knows how important it is. Of course we would love to win, you want to come out, you want to have success, but there's so many good things that happened, including Giannis going to the free throw line with the game on the line.

"You can't duplicate that in practice and he's just going to get better and better as we go forward."

Giannis Antetokounmpo joked that he will retire in five years if he can win an NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Antetokounmpo pledged his future to the Bucks with a supermax five-year contract extension – reportedly worth $228million – following speculation over his future entering the final year of his previous deal.

The two-time reigning NBA MVP, who has called Milwaukee home since he was drafted 15th in 2013, is pursuing the Bucks' first championship since 1971.

Milwaukee lost in last season's Eastern Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort, having reached the Conference Finals in 2018-19.

"I just want to have kids, being able to raise my kids and win a championship," Antetokounmpo told reporters on Wednesday, a day after his blockbuster deal was announced.

"After that, my life's complete. I can retire in five years. Nah, I'm joking."

"I think we can get better. I believe we can be better. We've got better," Antetokounmpo said. "We have a great team. We have a great culture. I know that I'm working toward that goal. The front office is working toward that goal, so I'm good. I'm happy. I think everybody's on the same page.

"At the end of the day, you've got to look at the past; we've gotten better every single year. In my opinion, the last two years were realistically the two years where we fight for a championship. The years before that, there wasn't a championship years so it's not going to be easy."

Antetokounmpo was crowned the NBA's MVP for the second straight year after leading the Bucks to the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the league's best record (56-17) before losing in the semis in Orlando, Florida.

The "Greek Freak" averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game during the regular season.

Antetokounmpo was the only player that ranked in the top five in scoring and rebounding in 2019-20 among qualifying players. The last player to do it on the team with the most wins in the NBA that season was Los Angeles Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal in 1999-00.

Of all players to rank in the top five of both points per game and rebounds per game, Antetokounmpo was doing it averaging the fewest minutes per game (30.4). For context, Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid ranked in the top five last season with 33.7 minutes per game.

"The way that this city has supported me and my family has been amazing since day one, since the day I walked in the Cousins Center gym and Bradley Center, also. It's been amazing. I was 18, I'm 26 right now. All I know is Milwaukee," Antetokounmpo said.

"When I came here, all I knew is that this is a city that loves basketball, it's a city that ... We have more things to do now, but when I came here we had a lot of things to do so I could just focus on basketball and it's a place that I want to be. It's a place where I want to raise my kids and I feel good here. I feel that my family feels good here, so I'm good."

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in points per game, total rebounds per game and assists per game last season. He also did this last season and also in 2016-17. If not for team-mate Eric Bledsoe barely beating him out in assists per game in 2017-18, Antetokounmpo would have led Milwaukee in these categories for a fourth consecutive season.

There have been 15 instances in which a player has averaged 25.0-plus points per game, 10.0-plus rebounds per game and 5.0-plus assists per game in a season. Antetokounmpo has two of these instances, in 2019-20 and last term. The 26-year-old joined Russell Westbrook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only players to average these numbers in multiple seasons.

Not since Abdul-Jabbar in 1972-73 (30.2ppg, 16.1rbg and 5.0apg) had a player enjoyed a season with 29.0-plus points per game, 13.0-plus rebounds per game and 5.0-plus assists per game. Chamberlain achieved the feat twice in 1963-64 (36.9ppg, 22.3rbg and 5.0apg) and 1965-66 (33.5ppg, 24.6rbg and 5.2apg), while Elgin Baylor had averages of 34.8ppg, 19.8rbg and 5.1apg in 1960-61.

LeBron James said it is great that Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a max contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, though the Los Angeles Lakers superstar dismissed comparisons.

Antetokounmpo pledged his future to the championship-chasing Bucks with a mammoth five-year contract – reportedly worth $228million – following speculation over his future entering the final year of his previous deal.

The two-time reigning NBA MVP had been linked to the likes of the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors, but opted to stay in Milwaukee, where the Bucks have not won a title since 1971.

James was asked about Antetokounmpo's decision, having left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat before returning and then eventually joining the Lakers.

"I don't know if I can relate to his situation. All of our situations are different. Totally different actually," four-time champion and Finals MVP James told reporters on Tuesday.

"They tried to build something great for him, and they obviously did enough to keep him there. I think it's great that he's staying there, that he's committed to that franchise.

"That's what it's all about. My situation and his situation, there's no similarities in it. It's totally different."

James helped lead the way for the Lakers in 2019-20 as the storied franchise ended their decade-long wait for a championship.

The 35-year-old celebrated a fourth league title as the Lakers topped the Miami Heat inside the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in October amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He also earned his fourth Finals MVP, becoming the first player in NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL history to win the Finals MVP with three different teams, having also received the honour with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Heat, per Stats Perform.

In his 17th season, James moved clear of Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan with a fourth Finals MVP – now only trailing Michael Jordan (six).

James is the fourth player all-time to score 30,000-plus points and win four or more championships. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tops the list with 38,387 points and six titles, ahead of Jordan (32,292 points and six titles) and Kobe Bryant (33,643 points and five titles).

Last season, James appeared in 67 games and averaged 25.3 points, a career-best and league-leading 10.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds per games, while he averaged 27.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the playoffs.

One of six players in NBA history to average 25 points and 10 assists in a single season, James earned a league-record 13th All-NBA First Team selection, while being selected as an All-Star for the 16th time in his career.

Entering his 18th NBA campaign and preparing for the season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 22, James – who will team up with recruits Dennis Schroder and Marc Gasol in LA – said: "Every year causes for whatever that challenge presents itself.

"So, if it presents to me to be the primary ball handler and also try to lead the league in assists or to make sure I am being at the forefront of getting guys involved, then I can take that responsibility every single action. If our team doesn't need that this year, then that's absolutely fine as well."

"Let's have fun, win and make these years count". That is the message from Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo after his supermax contract extension.

Antetokounmpo pledged his future to the Bucks with a mammoth five-year contract – reportedly worth $228million – following speculation over his future entering the final year of his previous deal.

The two-time reigning NBA MVP has called Milwaukee home since he was drafted 15th in 2013, and pursuing the Bucks' first championship since 1971, he said: "This is a big moment for me and my family and I want to thank the Bucks organisation for believing in us.

"You took a chance on us eight years ago and now putting my signature on a contract like this is unreal – but it's all because of hard work.

"This is my home and I'm going to continue working hard and do my best to make the Bucks, our fans and the city proud. Let's have fun, win and make these years count."

Antetokounmpo was crowned the NBA's MVP for the second straight year after leading the Bucks to the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the league's best record (56-17) before losing in the semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The "Greek Freak" – who averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game during the regular season – became the first player to claim MVP honours in successive seasons since Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry in 2015 and 2016.

Antetokounmpo was the only player that ranked in the top five in scoring and rebounding in 2019-20 among qualifying players. The last player to do it on the team with the most wins in the NBA that season was Los Angeles Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal in 1999-00.

Of all players to rank in the top five of both points per game and rebounds per game, Antetokounmpo was doing it averaging the fewest minutes per game (30.4). For context, Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid ranked in the top five last season with 33.7 minutes per game.

"Giannis is a once-in-a-generation player and we are beyond excited for him to remain with the Bucks," said Bucks co-owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan. "Giannis positively impacts everyone around him on and off the court and he brings a staggering dedication to winning and leadership to our organisation.

"His work ethic and desire to be the best epitomise what the Bucks stand for and what our future holds. We thank Giannis and his family for their long-term commitment to Milwaukee and we look forward to many years of success. This is a momentous day for the Bucks, our fans and the state of Wisconsin."

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in points per game, total rebounds per game and assists per game last season. He also did this last season and also in 2016-17. If not for team-mate Eric Bledsoe barely beating him out in assists per game in 2017-18, Antetokounmpo would have led Milwaukee in these categories for a fourth consecutive season.

There have been 15 instances in which a player has averaged 25.0-plus points per game, 10.0-plus rebounds per game and 5.0-plus assists per game in a season. Antetokounmpo has two of these instances, in 2019-20 and last term. The 26-year-old joined Russell Westbrook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only players to average these numbers in multiple seasons.

Not since Abdul-Jabbar in 1972-73 (30.2ppg, 16.1rbg and 5.0apg) had a player enjoyed a season with 29.0-plus points per game, 13.0-plus rebounds per game and 5.0-plus assists per game. Chamberlain achieved the feat twice in 1963-64 (36.9ppg, 22.3rbg and 5.0apg) and 1965-66 (33.5ppg, 24.6rbg and 5.2apg), while Elgin Baylor had averages of 34.8ppg, 19.8rbg and 5.1apg in 1960-61.

"Giannis' NBA career began as an 18-year-old from the Sepolia neighbourhood north of Athens, Greece," Bucks general manager Jon Horst said. "Through hard work, determination and an unequalled desire to be the best, Giannis has developed into a relentlessly driven, 26-year-old, two-time Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-Star for the Milwaukee Bucks.

"He's an incredible team-mate, a kind and caring person, an affable member of the Milwaukee community, and the leader of our team who sets the tone for our organisation. We are thrilled for Giannis and his family and are tremendously proud to sign him to this well-deserved contract extension."

Giannis Antetokounmpo is not going anywhere.

Consecutive MVP seasons have not been enough to get the Milwaukee Bucks through to an NBA Finals series to date, but the 'Greek Freak' is willing to stick with the project.

Amid mounting speculation a year out from unrestricted free agency, Antetokounmpo signed a five-year, $228million supermax extension on Tuesday.

"This is my home, this is my city," he wrote on Twitter, announcing the deal. "The show goes on, let's get it."

Antetokounmpo has been outstanding in Milwaukee, but there is work to do again now to finally land a championship ring – the Bucks have not reigned supreme since 1971.

We break down his career with the aid of Stats Perform data.

 

STILL IMPROVING

Antetokounmpo is now heading into his eighth year in the NBA, but his progress still shows no signs of slowing.

The 26-year-old has averaged more points and more rebounds per game with each passing season, developing from 6.8 and 4.4 in his debut 2013-14 season to 29.5 and 13.6 last term.

This is particularly impressive as head coach Mike Budenholzer has worked to manage Antetokounmpo's minutes. The forward played 6.3 minutes fewer in 2019-20 than two years previously yet averaged 2.6 points more.

Even the areas of Antetokounmpo's game that have been seen as weak - notably his three-point shooting - are gradually improving. He took aim from beyond the arc 4.7 times per game last season, up from 2.8, and made 30.4 per cent.

Milwaukee are increasingly dependent on the player, too, as he rises to the challenge. His plus/minus statistic last time out was a staggering 11.1 points per game. In 2017, when Antetokounmpo made the All-NBA Second Team, it was just 0.6.

The only real concern in the previous campaign was a drop-off in free throw efficiency, making just 63.3 per cent, but he visited the foul line more often than ever before (10.0 times per game). Those misses did little to damage his overall statistics.
 

LEAGUE LEADER

Giannis is great on the eye, but his MVP seasons were also built on these remarkable numbers and the way they compare so favourably to his rivals.

Antetokounmpo ranked fifth for points per game in 2019-20 - Houston Rockets guard James Harden leading the way with 34.3 - yet played fewer minutes per game than anyone else in the top 20. He was also still well clear of MVP runner-up LeBron James (25.3).

And the Bucks superstar was the only player to average 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds, displaying his dominance on the floor.

Antetokounmpo made more field goals (10.9) than any other player, while only Harden went to the foul line more often (attempting 11.8 free throws).

That plus/minus statistic puts Milwaukee's main man head and shoulders above the rest of the league, too, with Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard second on 8.4 points per game.
 

PLAYOFF PROGRESS?

With Antetokounmpo so imposing in the regular season, his failure to inspire playoff success remains somewhat confusing.

Milwaukee will hope their offseason moves, most notably a blockbuster trade for Jrue Holiday, will improve the supporting cast, but Antetokounmpo also still has strides to make.

His points per game fell to 26.7 in the 2020 postseason - still impressive but a marked decline from the regular season. By contrast, Lakers great James boosted his points from 25.3 to 27.6 in the playoffs.

With the rest of the league playing their best basketball, Antetokounmpo is not quite the same difference-maker. His plus/minus was 3.0 points per game last season and sits at 2.0 for his career.

James' figure was 7.9, lifting his postseason average to 5.7.

In the regular season,  Antetokounmpo is able to perform in spite of his limited minutes, and regular complaints in the postseason have centred on Budenholzer's refusal to alter that strategy.

While the Bucks' top performer averaged 30.8 minutes in the postseason, just 0.4 up on the rest of the campaign, champions Los Angeles kept LeBron out there for 36.3 minutes  per playoff game, still the lowest such average of his career.

Between Antetokounmpo and Budenholzer, there is work to be done to ensure the team "make these years count", as the player wrote on Tuesday.

Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has signed a five-year supermax contract to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Antetokounmpo, who was entering the final year of his previous deal, confirmed on his Twitter account on Tuesday he was staying in Milwaukee for another five years.

"This is my home, this is my city," he wrote. "I'm blessed to be able to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next five years.

"Let's make these years count. The show goes on, let's get it."

ESPN reported the new contract was a supermax extension worth $228million, including an opt-out after the fourth year.

Antetokounmpo could have become an unrestricted free agent next year, garnering interest from around the league, but will instead remain with the team that made him a star.

The Greek was the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and has averaged 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists across his career.

The 26-year-old has been particularly outstanding in recent seasons, though.

Antetokounmpo is a four-time All-Star and made the All-NBA Second Team in 2017 and 2018, then the All-NBA First Team in 2019 and 2020.

In the latter two campaigns, Antetokounmpo has been the league MVP, also earning Defensive Player of the Year honours in 2020.

His outstanding form has helped Milwaukee finish as top seeds in the East in the past two campaigns, although they lost in the conference finals to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in 2019 and the semifinals to the Miami Heat earlier this year.

The Bucks have worked this offseason to boost their roster and convince Antetokounmpo he can achieve team success in Wisconsin.

A blockbuster trade was agreed with the New Orleans Pelicans for Jrue Holiday, although a further move for Bogdan Bogdanovic fell through.

Milwaukee's 2020-21 regular season begins against the Boston Celtics on December 23.

Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has signed a five-year supermax contract to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted his focus was not on potentially signing a supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks.

The two-time reigning NBA MVP has until December 21 to sign a five-year supermax extension with the Bucks in a deal reportedly worth at least $228million.

But, despite the approaching deadline, Antetokounmpo said he was staying focused on his, and his team's, improvement.

"Right now, I'm not focusing on that," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"I know my agent Alex [Saratsis] and [Bucks general manager] Jon Horst and the Bucks ownership are focusing on those discussions.

"I'm just trying to focus on myself, how I can get better, how I can help my team-mates be better, how I can be ready on Saturday to play our first preseason game."

Antetokounmpo looked set to lead the Bucks to a first championship since 1971 last season, but Milwaukee fell to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The Bucks were the second team ever to have the outright best record in the NBA in two straight seasons and not make it to the Finals in either, along with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Antetokounmpo averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists during the regular season, but his free-throw shooting fell away.

He had the third largest season-to-season decline in NBA history among players with at least 600 free-throw attempts in both campaigns, dropping from 72.9 per cent to 63.3.

As the Bucks prepare for another championship tilt, Antetokounmpo was unwilling to put additional pressure on his team.

"I don't believe it's a championship-or-bust situation," he said.

"Obviously, everybody wants to win a championship. I want to win a championship. There's nobody that wants to win a championship more than me – I can guarantee you that.

"But there's steps to that. You've got to keep improving. You've got to keep getting better, and hopefully we can get there this year."

The Bucks begin their NBA campaign against the Boston Celtics on December 23, after three preseason games against the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is optimistic over Giannis Antetokounmpo's future following productive and fruitful communication during the offseason.

Antetokounmpo is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21 season, when he will be eligible for a supermax contract extension worth around $254million.

It remains to be seen whether the two-time reigning NBA MVP will stay in Milwaukee or depart for pastures new amid links to the likes of the Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks.

As the Bucks prepare for the start of the season, which tips off on December 22, Budenholzer told reporters: "The conversations with Giannis have been great this summer. He's incredibly supportive of us and everything we're trying to do to make this team the best it can be, and the same for us to support him.

"It's a big decision. I think the communication between he and I has been really good, really productive, fruitful.

"Same with [general manager] Jon [Horst], so we feel really good about the communication with Giannis throughout the summer and offseason."

Antetokounmpo averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game during the regular season to become the first player to receive MVP honours in successive seasons since Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry in 2015 and 2016.

The 25-year-old led the Bucks with 30.4 minutes per game during the regular season. In NBA history, there has only been one team to win the NBA title without having a player average at least 32 minutes per game in the regular season: the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs.

Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton added: "I have a lot of respect for Giannis. In my situation last year, he told me how he felt, and that's all I can do in return.

"I think we're more than friends at this point. We've spent eight years together. We've been through a lot together also, so, at the end of the day, I want him to do what's best for him and his family.

"He knows that I deeply want him to return and sign this extension, but at the same time, I know he's got a big decision that he's got to work through himself and with his family at home because those are the most important people.

"Whatever he does, he knows that I'll support him to the fullest, so I've talked to him. I give him my two cents and my opinion or try to convince him, but at the end of the day, I'm going to always love him and appreciate whatever he has to do."

The Bucks – eyeing a first championship since 1971 – suffered disappointment in the playoffs last season, going out in a 4-1 Eastern Conference semi-finals series loss to the Heat.

Milwaukee owned a league-best 56-17 record, but their form faded dramatically following the restart at Walt Disney World Resort amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bucks became the first team in NBA history to have more losses (4-9) in their final 13 regular-season games than they did in the entire campaign prior to that (52-8).

"We always embraced and feel fortunate that we feel we have the roster, we feel like we have players that are incredibly talented on both ends of the court and we're in the mix to be the last team standing," said Budenholzer, whose team will begin their season against the Boston Celtics on December 23.

"But, there's a process that every team's got to go through to get there. I think the goal is real, the opportunity is real, but I think that if you're an organisation or a team that doesn't embrace that, you're probably maybe in the wrong business, but at the same time, to think that a season is championship-or-bust is certainly not the way we've approached it.

"We really embrace competition, we embrace the playoffs, we embrace the opportunity and we want to be that last team standing, but that phrase is just something that doesn't resonate with me or, I think, our group or organisationally."

Bogdan Bogdanovic has signed for the Atlanta Hawks in free agency after rejecting the opportunity to join Giannis Antetokounmpo at the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks have looked to make big moves this offseason to keep Antetokounmpo on board when he becomes a free agent next year.

A blockbuster move for Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans went through, before Milwaukee looked to have done a deal to bring in Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings in a sign-and-trade.

Justin James was also going to move to the Bucks, with Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova and DJ Wilson heading in the opposite direction.

However, Bogdanovic - a restricted free agent attracting attention from Atlanta - rejected the switch.

The Hawks then submitted a four-year, $72million offer sheet for the 28-year-old guard, according to ESPN, and the Kings decided not to match it.

Bogdanovic wrote on Twitter: "Thank you so much @SacramentoKings for welcoming me with so much love to start my NBA career.

"Thank you for allowing me to be myself and giving me the opportunity to follow my dreams!!! Thank you to the fans and the city for welcoming me, and supporting me the whole time!!

"I'm going to miss all my friends, teammates and one of the best fan bases in NBA!!!"

Atlanta confirmed the signing of Bogdanovic, who averaged 15.1 points, 3.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 29.0 minutes for Sacramento last season.

In a busy offseason, the team have also recruited Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn.

The Kings' decision not to match the Hawks' offer was made easier when Tyrese Haliburton fell to number 12 in the draft last week.

They are building around 22-year-old guard De'Aaron Fox, who has signed a five-year max contract worth at least $163m.

Last season, in his third year in the NBA, Fox averaged 21.1 points, 6.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 32.0 minutes.

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