Giannis Antetokounmpo Wins 2017 NBA Most Improved Player Award

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 27, 2017

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Bucks won 90-82. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Capping off a star-making season, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the NBA's Most Improved Player for 2016-17.

Antetokounmpo beat out Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic for the honor given during Monday's NBA Awards.  

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Someone upped his freak this year. Giannis is your Most Improved Player #CourtGods https://t.co/G2yxbTFegb

The 22-year-old Antetokounmpo started coming into his own during the 2015-16 season. He averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 80 games, yet still managed to improve in every major statistical category the following year. 

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in scoring (22.9), rebounding (8.8), assists (5.4), steals (1.6) and blocks (1.9). He became the fifth player in NBA history to lead his team in each of those five categories and first player in league history to rank in the top 20 in each of those five categories, per NBA.com

After being named to his first All-Star team last season, the Greek Freak noted Milwaukee's struggles in 2015-16 compelled him to work that much harder on his game. 

"Last year after the All-Star break I started putting a lot of work in," Antetokounmpo told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears. "It was a tough year for us. I decided that no matter what happens I have to get better every day. Things just clicked that I did. I don't fear anybody. I just did what I was supposed to do and it started clicking."

The work paid off for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. He has become a franchise building block and has the potential to continue improving because he's still so young. 

The Bucks have made the playoffs in two of the last three years. Last season marked their first year with a winning record since 2009-10, and they did it without Jabari Parker for 31 games after he suffered a torn ACL. 

Antetokounmpo is young, exciting and driven to make himself better. It paid off by being named the NBA's Most Improved Player for the 2016-17 season.