Giannis Antetokounmpo on playing like an MVP: 'Kobe made me change my mentality'

Bucks superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an MVP-caliber season.

And he attributes some of that success to a former NBA MVP who knows a thing or two about winning championships.

Speaking to reporters following the Bucks 128-122 win over the 76ers Thursday night, the Greek Freak gave praise to Kobe Bryant for helping him change his mentality heading into this season, with Bryant telling Giannis to go get the MVP award.

“He made me believe it even more,” Giannis said. “You know a guy like Kobe saying ‘Go get the MVP’ made me definitely change my mentality and believe it even more that I can do it.” 

Most NBA pundits will say MVP race is a two man one between Antetokounmpo and James Harden — the stats certainly back this up.

Giannis’ per game numbers of 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists stack up nicely against Harden’s 36.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Giannis has the upper hand in Player Efficiency Rating (30.7 to 30.6) while Harden leads in Win Shares (14.6 to 14.2).

What may be the ultimate deciding factor for who wins the award is team success.

After beating the 76ers for the their 59th win of the season, the Bucks officially clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and hold the best record in the NBA. 

The Rockets aren’t far behind, currently sitting in third place in the Western Conference with 51 wins. Harden won the MVP award last season which could work against him in the eyes of voters this time around.

But, no matter who wins, most will agree the voters got it right.