Celtics legend: Why Giannis Antetokounmpo is reminiscent of Julius Erving

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Photo credit Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Giannis Antetokounmpo's mission to become the eighth player in NBA history with three MVP awards will carry over into next season. According to a report from ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Milwaukee Bucks' superstar won't be named the 2021-22 recipient this week -- he's one of the NBA's runner-up finalists, as Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is taking home the hardware for a second consecutive campaign.

Although it's still unclear whether Antetokounmpo finished second or third in MVP voting results, the 27-year-old produced yet another sensational regular season for the Bucks. In 67 games, he averaged a team-high and career-best 29.9 points with 11.6 boards and 5.8 assists, and recorded 30 points in half of the games. Antetokounmpo's a dynamic playmaker with a unique skillset, and his talent reminds Boston Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell of an NBA icon.

"Right now, I definitely have to say he's [the NBA's best player]. He's dynamic in what he's able to do," Maxwell told The Zach Gelb Show on Tuesday. "I think if you look at it, Kevin Durant is probably a better offensive scorer because his jump shot is more reliable, and he's more deadly from the three-point line. But Giannis, when going toward the rim, there aren't a lot of guys like him.

"When looking back at my days of playing through the late 1970s and 80s, the guy I'd say Giannis is more like is a taller Dr. J [Julius Erving]. He's athletic and a guy who can get to the rim. Big hands -- always looking to create situations with his athleticism. He'd jump over, through, and around you. Giannis would play great in my era. Athletically, he's so gifted. Not a lot of guys like him."

Milwaukee, which clinched the East's third seed with a 51-31 record, will play Game 5 of its East semifinal series against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 ET tip-off). Through nine playoff games this spring, Antetokounmpo's averaged a team-high 30.1 points with 13.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists. With the series tied at two games apiece, the Bucks have a 29-percent chance to reach the East Finals, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The entire NBA conversation between Maxwell and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow The Zach Gelb Show on Twitter @ZachGelb and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.