From All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo to rookie sensation Malcolm Brogdon, FOX Sports Wisconsin hands out awards from the Milwaukee Bucks from the first half of the season.
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Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Antetokounmpo received the national attention he deserves when he was named a starter for the Eastern Conference in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game -- and then got even more after leading the East with 30 points. Giannis became the first Milwaukee Bucks player to be named an All-Star starter since Sidney Moncrief in 1986 and first voted in since Moncrief in 1984. The 22-year-old is averaging 23.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals per game so far (all of which lead the team) and gave the Bucks the highlight of the season with his buzzer beater on Jan. 4 to knock off the New York Knicks.
Associated PressJeffrey Phelps
Rookie of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon
The Bucks chose Brogdon out of Virginia in the second round, and fans couldn’t have expected his emergence into the box score the past few months. Brogdon directs the offense with his veteran-like composure and has stepped in wherever Jason Kidd needs him to, whether it’s coming off the bench or starting at the point. Since starting his first career NBA game at Minnesota on Dec. 30, Brogdon is averaging 11.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. The rookie also boasts a 2.88 assist/turnover in that span and a .39.7 shooting percentage from 3-point land.
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Sixth Man: Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe signed with the Bucks in 2015 as a starter, but he’s seen a different role in 2016-17. The seven-year veteran is averaging a career-low 21.8 minutes per game off the bench, but he’s been productive when’s he’s on the court. Monroe’s 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game boost Milwaukee when its starters are resting -- in 12 games since Jan. 23, he is averaging 15.0 points while shooting 62.7 percent from the field -- and he’s grown to have chemistry with rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon – earning the two the nickname “The Bruise Brothers” from TV announcer Gus Johnson. His veteran presence is irreplaceable on such a young team.
NBAE/Getty ImagesGary Dineen
Most Improved: Thon Maker
The 19-year-old rookie doesn’t log substantial minutes often, but the first-round pick has grown in his role with the Bucks as the season has progressed. Maker has started in seven games, including the last four, and played over 20 minutes for the first time in his career during a road game at Utah on Feb. 1 (and repeated 10 days later in a win at Indiana). In the game against the Jazz, Maker scored a career-high 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the perimeter and used his 7-foot-3 wingspan to swat three shots. He also scored 12 points against the Pacers, showing off his range by hitting 3 of 5 3-pointers. Although there’s a low sample size, it’s clear to see Maker is developing into a pro and his ceiling looks higher each passing week. Head coach Jason Kidd has said Maker will continue to start at center for the Bucks coming out of the All-Star break.
Defensive Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo
You don’t become an NBA All-Star starter without coming to FOX Sports Wisconsin’s podium twice for two midseason awards. Antetokounmpo has blossomed into an elite two-way player. He ranks sixth in the NBA with 95 steals and fifth in blocks with 106 – the only player in the NBA to rank top 10 in both categories. In addition, he's fourth in defensive box plus/minus (3.4), tied for 12th in defensive win shares (12.9) and 20th in defensive rating (104.5).
Best Moment: Giannis' buzzer-beat at Madison Square Garden
On Jan. 4, with Milwaukee trailing 104-103, Antetokounmpo worked against Knicks forward Lance Thomas as he moved towards the free-throw line, before spinning and knocking down a 17-foot, step-back jumper for the win as the buzzer sounded. He made a few more headlines after the fact, hanging around after the game to sign autographs and take photos with Greek basketball fans.