Giannis Antetokounmpo Won't Play vs. Lakers; Ankle Injury Diagnosed as Sprain

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 13: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks looks on against the Indiana Pacers in the first half of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 13, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Bucks won 106-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been ruled out of Tuesday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Fiserv Forum because of a right ankle sprain.

Pau Gasol, Sterling Brown (right wrist soreness) and Donte DiVincenzo (bilateral heel bursitis) also will not suit up for the Bucks.

The Lakers previously ruled out four-time NBA MVP LeBron James due to a sore left groin.

Injuries are not something the 24-year-old Antetokounmpo has dealt with much early in his career. He missed just 17 total games in his first five years in the league. Never has he appeared in fewer than 75. This season, however, he missed an October contest while in concussion protocol, a game in January as the result of a sore right quad and one in February with a sore right knee.

Even while dealing with a few injuries, the Bucks star has put himself in the MVP conversation with his best season to date.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals in 65 games in 2018-19. And not only are his individual numbers ridiculous, but he has also helped Milwaukee (52-18) remain among the best teams in the NBA. The Bucks sit in first place in the East, 2.5 games clear of the Toronto Raptors, and have the best record in the league.

Milwaukee is a well-rounded team, but without the Greek Freak, it's hard to imagine it as a serious contender. Antetokounmpo can do just about anything on the court, making his production tough to replace. 

His health needs to be the No. 1 priority in Milwaukee with a playoff spot already wrapped up. The Bucks will only go as far as Antetokounmpo can carry them, so making sure he is as healthy as possible for the postseason gives them their best shot at getting out of the first round since 2001.