Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo says Stephen Curry is NBA’s best player after leading Golden State Warriors to title

MILWAUKEE — For Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s best player debate is simple.

He doesn’t consider himself the current best player in the league because his team failed to win the championship last season. So he was willing to cede that award to Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry instead.

“I think the best player in the world is the one who stands last,” said Antetokounmpo on Sunday afternoon at Bucks Media Day. “It’s the person that takes their team to the final and the finish line and helps them win the game. …that’s how I see it. I think the best player in the world is Steph Curry.”

Antetokounmpo, who was named the No. 1 player in ESPN’s NBArank, acknowledged he’s one of the best players in the league and could have claimed first place after the Bucks won the 2021 NBA Finals. But after losing to the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs in a seven-game series last season, Milwaukee fell short of claim.

Antetokounmpo also finished third in NBA MVP voting after averaging 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists last season, but he pointed out how individual awards compare to the thrill of winning of the NBA Finals failed.

“The feeling I had was a beautiful feeling,” he said. “I got jealous of Golden State when I saw them in the parade and the ESPYs. You know that feeling now. You know what is being taken away from you.”

With Antetokounmpo at the center, the Bucks believe they have a team capable of winning the NBA championship again. They brought back almost their entire squad from last season. Sixteen of the 20 players in training camp were on the roster at some point last season, including forward Jordan Nwora, who signed a two-year, $6.2 million deal to stay with the Bucks on Sunday, his agents Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said .

“It’s really hard to keep a good team together,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “When you win at a high level, teams want your players. They come and take your players and we’ve all seen it if you’ve been in the NBA a long time. I can’t say enough about how excited we are when you have a really good team to be able to hold it together. And that’s because we believe in it.”

However, the Bucks’ roster will not be at full strength early in the season while some of their wingers are working their way back from injury.

Forward Khris Middleton has admitted he won’t be ready to play the Philadelphia 76ers in the Oct. 20 season opener as he continues his recovery from left wrist surgery in July.

Middleton had the cast removed from his left wrist about two weeks ago and he is hoping to regain his range of motion soon before resuming his basketball activities. He said he developed discomfort in his wrist at some point around the All-Star break, but played it through until an MCL sprain in the first round of the playoffs ended his season early.

“Hopefully it’s closer to the start of the season,” Middleton said. “I know it won’t be this week, but soon after.”

The one major addition Milwaukee made to their roster was the free-hand signing of forward Joe Ingles, who is recovering from a cruciate ligament rupture. Ingles tore the ACL in his left knee in late January and underwent surgery in February to repair the injury.

Bucks general manager Jon Horst pointed to next January as a realistic timeline for his potential return.

“It’s fun to say that you brought your team back,” said Horst. “But I also think Joe is a big deal for us. And we’re going to be right or wrong, that’s how this business works, but it’s just no small thing. It’s a pretty big impact on our team.” Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo says Stephen Curry is NBA’s best player after leading Golden State Warriors to title

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