NBA Awards Rankings: New No. 1 in MVP race

Tyrese Haliburton is that dude.

Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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5. 5. 89. . player. Forward. Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo. . Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks are 15-7, tied for second place in the Eastern Conference despite the notable downgrade from Mike Budenholzer to Adrian Griffin. Milwaukee has overcome schematic concerns on both ends to mostly dominate teams in their traditional manner, benefitting of course from the arrival of Damian Lillard.

Giannis Antetokounmpo remains the head of the snake, averaging 30.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 5.0 assists on .614/.243/.657 splits. His usage rate is down almost five points compared to last season for obvious reasons, but Antetokounmpo is on track for career-best shooting efficiency (64.8 TS%) and he continues to supply elite help-side defense as Milwaukee's enforcer (1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks).

There's a certain inevitability to Giannis' inclusion in these rankings. He's the NBA's ultimate force of nature, bludgeoning defenders on drives to the rim and constantly imposing his will as an interior scorer. He's impossible to stop one-on-one, blessed with strength and mobility skills never-before-seen in a true 7-footer. The struggles from 3-point range and the free throw line persist, but Giannis also gets to the free throw line a ton. That alone has tremendous value, even if he's only hitting a middling percentage of his attempts.

He has help on the defensive front, as Brook Lopez continues to wall off the paint, but Antetokounmpo's unwavering effort both ways is unique for a star of his stature. His motor runs hot, always, and there's something to be said for that. As the Bucks continue to figure out their new circumstances, Giannis stands tall as their guiding light.