The 2016-17 NBA season is in the books and we have a large number of players deserving of All-NBA recognition.
G-Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Westbrook had been a total freak of nature this season. The single-season triple-double record and a scoring title to go with his unrelenting energy and aggressiveness make him an easy pick here. In most seasons, his 10.4 assists per game would have been enough to add Westbrook’s name to Nate “Tiny” Archibald as players to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season.
G-James Harden, Rockets
Harden led the league in assists with an 11.2 average, while still averaging 29.1 points. Pre-season I predicted he would average 30 and 10 and I was less than a point per game away from being right. Harden, and his 21 triple-doubles, single-handedly makes the Rockets a nightmare match-up because nobody can stay in front of him and he can get his shot off at-will. In almost any other season Harden is the run-away MVP winner.
F-Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
The best player on 61-win Spurs, Leonard has increased his scoring up to 25.7 points to go with his 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and his 1.8 steals. Add it all up and Leonard’s PER of 27.8 ranks him behind only Westbrook. How is it that the Spurs and Leonard consistently get overlooked?
F-Lebron James, Cavaliers
Never before has a player set career-highs in rebounds and assists this late in their career. Lebron not only averaged 26.4 points to go with his 8.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds, but he also did it while shooting an uber-efficient 54.8 percent from the floor. There is no player more important to his team’s success than Lebron James.
C-Rudy Gobert, Jazz
Sure, Gobert wasn’t even on the All-Star team, but last year DeAndre Jordan was First Team without making the All-Star Team, so why not? Gobert is the best rim-protector in the league, led the league in blocks by a healthy margin (2.6), while also finishing first in Offensive Rating (129), first in block percentage (6.4), second in Defensive Rating (99), second in field goal percentage, fourth in double-doubles (58), and fourth in rebounding (12.8) to go with his 14 points. He also led the stingy Jazz defense to 51 wins and a Division Title.
G-Steph Curry, Warriors
Some people said that Curry had a “down year” this year. Well, that must have been because the back-to-back MVP winner was competing against his own standard. Curry averaged 25.4, 6.6 assists, and 4.5 rebounds, but also made more than 50 threes more than anyone else in the league. Oh, did I mention that he played more games than any other Warrior on a 67-win team? The fact that Curry is only a 2nd Team All-NBA performer is a sign of just how strong the league is today.
G-John Wall, Wizards
Wall had a career year, setting career highs in scoring, assists, steals, and field goal percentage. The NBA’s steals leader also finished second in assists to go with his 23.1 points for the 49 win Wizards. Wall was the Wizards best player and the defensive and offensive catalyst. He also finished 7th in the league in double-doubles.
F-Anthony Davis, Pelicans
It’s tough to have a career year and not make the All-NBA First Team, but Davis just wasn’t going to knock off Lebron or Kawhi this year despite averaging career highs in scoring (28.0) and rebounding (11.8). Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns are the only players from losing teams who get the All-NBA nod.
F-Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kevin Durant did exactly what everyone thought he’d do in his first season in Golden State…fit in perfectly. In fact, Durant became the focal point of the Warriors league-leading and record setting offense. Durant’s efficiency is what made him so special this year, shooting a red-hot 53.5 percent from the floor to go with career highs in rebounds (8.3), blocks (1.3), to go with his 25 points per game. Had Durant not missed 19 games to a sprained knee, she would be right in the thick of the MVP discussion.
C-Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves
Try this one on for size, KAT just broke Kevin Love’s franchise record for points in a single season. So, the 21 year-old Towns has scored more in a season than Kevin Garnett or Kevin Love ever did. 25.1 points and 12.3 rebounds on 54.2% shooting as a 21 year-old is pretty elite company. I predict he will stay on the All-NBA Team for the next decade at least.
G-Isaiah Thomas, Celtics
Thomas loves proving people wrong. He upped his scoring average to an astonishing 28.9 points per game while leading the Boston Celtics to the number one seed in the East (granted, much of that was due to the Cavs’ second half debacle, but I digress). He led the NBA in fourth quarter scoring even though everybody knew Thomas was going to shoot. As the NBA’s number three scorer it didn’t seem to matter what quarter it was, Thomas was scoring. Thomas misses out on the All-NBA second team because of the defensive side of the ball, which too many ignore.
G-DeMarr DeRozan, Raptors
Not only has DeRozan become one of the most lethal scorers in the league (27.3 PPG) and one of the league’s best at attacking the rim (8.7 free throw attempts per game), but he has also held down the fort and the 3rd seed in the east for the Raptors while Lowry was on the shelf.
F-Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
The Greek Freak went from an intriguing talent to an legitimate NBA star and became the first player since Larry Bird to lead his team in points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks. His 26.06 PER in other seasons would have been good enough to lead the league. Not only would Antetokounmpo be a first or second team performer if he wasn’t on a 42 win team, but he would also be in the thick of the MVP debate. Yeah, he’s been that good.
F-Jimmy Butler, Bulls
Butler had a career year with career-highs in scoring (23.9 ppg), rebounds (6.2 rpg), assists (5.5 apg), and steals (1.9 spg). The Bulls won 41 games and made the Playoffs despite not having a guard on the roster who could hit the broadside of a barn (Rondo, Wade, Carter-Williams). Butler was special on both sides of the ball for a team that was a little bit of a mess this season.
C-DeAndre Jordan, Clippers
Jordan’s numbers were slightly down across the board from his All-NBA First Team campaign of last year, but he was stellar again this season. He became a more important part of the Clippers’ offense with both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul missing significant time again this year. Jordan led the league in field-goal percentage for the fifth-straight season and finished third in rebounding.
All-NBA 4th Team (Honorable Mention):
Guard-Chris Paul, Clippers
Paul has consistently been one of the top guards in the league for a decade, but after missing 21 games to injury it’s too difficult to give him the nod over this tough of a field. 18/9/5/2 are pretty solid numbers, but missing 21 games makes it tough to edge out Thomas, DeRozan, Curry, Wall, Harden, and Westbrook.
Guard-Damian Lillard, Blazers
Lillard has been lights out and probably deserves a Third Team honor after another All-Star snub this season, but how do I put him on this team over Wall and DeRozan who were equally impressive and led better teams? Lillard’s lack of commitment on the defensive side of the ball continues to limit his ability to take the next step in his progression. His Defensive Rating was 116. By comparison, constant YouTube target for terrible defense, James Harden, had a Defensive Rating of 107.
Forward-Gordon Hayward, Jazz
Hayward has been the Jazz’s go-to player when they need a bucket and more often than not this season, Hayward delivered. In his seven NBA seasons, Hayward has improved his scoring average each season, finishing this season at 21.9, to go with his career-best 5.4 rebounds. His pairing with Rudy Gobert could be lethal in the coming years if Hayward decides to re-up with Utah this off-season.
Forward-Paul George, Pacers
George had his best statistical year this season and is clearly one-hundred percent back from his leg injury. 23.7 points per game was his career-high and he did it on 46.1 percent from the floor, 39.3 percent from three, and 89.8 from the line. Where George has slipped is on defense, where his 108 Defensive Rating is by far the worst of his career.
Center-DeMarcus Cousins, Kings/Pelicans
I don’t care how good his numbers are, his team’s win/loss record is all you need to look at. The Pelicans were 7-10 after the Cousins’ trade and 33 wins is the highest win total of any team Cousins has played for, which is not All-NBA worthy in my opinion.