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Giannis Antetokounmpo downplays being touted as MVP candidate

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to a huge 116-109 road victory Wednesday night over reigning MVP James Harden and the Houston Rockets, but the superstar expressed skepticism over whether he should be considered a legitimate candidate for the NBA’s top individual honor.

“To be honest with you, all I care about right now is getting better, helping my team win,” Antetokounmpo said after the game, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “And [becoming the league’s best player is] going to take care of itself. I know that one day it might happen. I don’t know if I’m there yet, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to get there, because that’s what I want to be.”

Antetokounmpo may disagree with being touted as an MVP-caliber player this early on in his career, but he put up the kind of performance befitting such accolades with a 27-point, 21-rebound, five-assist outing at Toyota Center.

Count Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni among those who believes Antetokounmpo should be in the running for MVP, saying the Bucks forward is “not normal,” among other accolades.

“We’re only halfway there,” D’Antoni said of a budding MVP race which features Harden and Antetokounmpo. “He and James are up there with a couple of other guys, and it’ll sort itself out.”

Harden concurred.

“He’s up there,” Harden said of Antetokounmpo. “He’s definitely [elite], just the way he impacts the game.”

Antetokounmpo, showcasing some savvy by deflecting all the praise, continued to play down the MVP chatter.

“All I care about is winning, to be honest with you,” Antetokounmpo said. “I know by winning — doing whatever it takes out there, helping your teammates and just leaving it everything on the floor — everything will take care of itself.”

While leading the Bucks to an Eastern Conference-best 29-11 record, Antetokounmpo is averaging 26.6 points on 58.1 percent shooting while adding 12.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

If those kind of numbers don’t make Antetokounmpo an MVP contender, what would?