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Giannis Antetokounmpo: I’m only at ’60 percent of my potential’

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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.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered an emotional speech after winning his first MVP award.

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. “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.

The upcoming 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 is honoring Antetokounmpo with a celebration for his MVP award on Sunday. 

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.



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Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers

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Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.



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Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers

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Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.

Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.

 The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.

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Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup

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Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.

During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.

Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.



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