Predicting the All-NBA teams is always a daunting task but this season the field is larger than ever before. Selecting only six guards for All-NBA honors seems unfair with all the quality play we are getting from the position. There will be an abnormal amount of snubs this season because we have so many players putting up big numbers. Let’s see who makes the cut for each team.
All-NBA First Team
Guard: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Even with the Warriors sitting in the eighth spot in the Western Conference, Curry is still playing at an MVP level. Curry has single-handedly lifted his team into playoff contention. Without him, the Warriors would be one of the worst teams in basketball evidenced by their 2-7 record in games that he has missed. Curry has played great all season but he has kicked it into another gear in the last two months. In April, Curry averaged 37.3 points per game and scored 40 or more points in five games. In May, Curry has been averaging 36.7 points per game. Teams have had no answers for Curry and he should be a unanimous selection.
Guard: Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks
Deciding on the second guard for the first team is tough. With Luka being classified as both a guard and forward, it comes down to Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Luka. Luka is the choice because he has to do so much for the Mavericks on a nightly basis. He ranks second to only Joel Embiid in usage percentage. Kristaps Porzingis has been in and out of the lineup all season but Luka has kept this team alive. He is averaging 27.9 points per game to go along with eight rebounds and 8.6 assists per game; he also has 26 double-doubles and 11 triple-doubles. Luka is one of the best offensive players in the league and he deserves a spot on the first team.
Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo is a lock for the All-NBA team for the fifth consecutive season. Nikola Jokic, Curry, and Paul have dominated the MVP headlines recently but Antetokounmpo should also be in that discussion. Antetokounmpo has been one of the five best players in the NBA this season. He’s playing high-level defense while averaging 28.1 points per game, 11 rebounds per game, and 5.9 assists per game. Great numbers that have been overlooked due to Antetokounmpo’s dominant MVP seasons in 2018-19 and 2019-20. It will be a surprise if Antetokounmpo fails to make the first team.
Forward: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Once the NBA announced that Embiid would be eligible for the All-NBA team as a forward and a center, it made the decision easy. Embiid would be the MVP front-runner had he not missed over 20 games due to injury. In the 51 games that Embiid has played in, the 76ers have a 39-12 record. That’s how dominant Embiid has been this season. He is unguardable in the post, seeing multiple defenders nearly every time he touches the ball in the paint. He leads the NBA in free throw attempts at 10.7 per game while shooting 86 percent from the line. Embiid is averaging a double-double with 28.5 points per game and he’s anchoring one of the top defensive teams in the NBA. This one is a no-brainer.
Center: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
This should come as no surprise, Jokic has been the most consistent player in the NBA and he’s the heavy favorite to bring home the MVP trophy this season. He’s averaging a near triple-double with 26.4 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game, and 8.3 assists per game. Jokic played every game this season and recorded 60 double-doubles and 16 triple-doubles. He’s putting up big numbers but his greatest feat this season is keeping the Nuggets amongst the league’s best teams with Jamal Murray suffering a season-ending injury in April; they have gone 13-5 since Murray’s injury and Jokic is the primary reason for that.
All-NBA Second Team
Guard: Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns
Paul should not be in the MVP race but he is an All-NBA performer. the Suns are having a great season. Paul has once again elevated another roster into playoff contention. Finishing with a record of 51-21, the Suns secured the two seed in the Western Conference. Even in year 16, Paul is still one of the best point guards in the NBA. Paul is averaging only 16.4 points per game and 8.9 assists per game but his leadership has been key. The Suns are a relatively young team so the guidance of Paul is necessary.
Guard: Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers
Known as one of the league’s premier scorer, Dame lived up to his reputation once again this season finishing third in the league in points per game. The Blazers may not be a contender but they will be an exciting team to watch in the playoffs due to Lillard. You never know when he will start going on his scoring runs but it seems to happen at least once a game. A first-round match-up with Denver is the next task for Lillard and the Blazers. Let’s see if he continues to play at this high of a level.
Forward: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
There are several worthy candidates for this spot but Leonard edges them out. He has missed over 20 games but that will not sway the voters. The Clippers are 47-25 and they’d probably have a better record if Kawhi could stay healthy. Leonard is scoring 24.8 points per game and he’s doing it efficiently; Leonard is shooting 51 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from three, and 88.8 percent from the free-throw line. He is also averaging a career-high in assists with 5.2 per game. Even in year 10, he still finds a way to improve. Let’s hope that this all translates to the playoffs for the Clippers this season.
Forward: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron would have had a strong case for first-team All-NBA if he never sprained his ankle. LeBron being able to play at an MVP level at this stage in his career is truly amazing. The Lakers were one of the top teams in the NBA record-wise before his injury. The Lakers faltered without LeBron in the lineup and now they will take part in the play-in game as the seventh seed. Even with the Lakers being the seventh seed, they should still be the favorites in the Western Conference. The Lakers match-up with every team in the NBA when healthy and they are getting healthy at the right time.
Center: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
The Jazz will get at least one All-NBA selection because they have the best record in the NBA. Donovan Mitchell had a nice shot but injuries killed his chances. That leaves Gobert. He does not offer much offensively but Gobert is a great defender. He leads the NBA in blocks, defensive rating, and defensive win shares; he is also second in rebounding. His strong defensive play is the reason the Jazz kept winning during Mitchell’s absence.
All-NBA Third Team
Guard: Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards
Westbrook is not the most efficient player and sometimes he makes bad mistakes at the worst time, but you have to respect the tenacity that he plays with every single game. He’s the most energetic player in the league and he makes everyone around him better. The Wizards got off to a rocky start but closed the season strong with a record of 15-5 in their last 20 games. Westbrook broke Oscar Robertson’s record of 181 career triple-doubles this season, an amazing accomplishment. He averaged triple-double for the fourth time in five seasons. Westbrook’s final averages this season are 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists.
Guard: Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
James Harden and Irving are both deserving of the last guard spot. Harden would have been a lock but he only played in 35 games with Brooklyn compared to 54 for Irving. Irving is the choice mostly because he played more games. Irving scored 26.9 points per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field, 40.2 percent from three, and 92.2 percent from the free-throw line. This puts Irving in that small group of players that have recorded 50/40/90 seasons.
Forward: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Butler is another player who has missed several games due to injury. He missed 20 games this season with the Heat going 7-13 in his absence. They are 33-19 in games that Butler played. Butler makes the Heat a legit playoff team and possible contender. His playmaking has improved this season and he’s averaging a career-high seven assists. Butler is also averaging 21.5 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. He’s been great on the defensive end averaging a league-leading 2.1 steals per game paired with great perimeter defense.
Forward: Julius Randle, New York Knicks
Randle and the New York Knicks are the biggest surprises of this season. Who thought that the Knicks would be a playoff team? When Randle signed with the Knicks in free agency, he was not viewed as an All-Star caliber player. That is not the case anymore. His per-game averages are 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and six assists. Not only will he make an All-NBA team, but he is also the favorite to bring home the most improved award too. Randle is having a phenomenal season and at only 26 years old, he still has room to grow.
Center: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Adebayo could be the defensive player of the year this season. He’s been causing havoc on that end of the floor. Butler is the best perimeter defender on the team but Adebayo may be the best overall defender on the team. Defensively he is strong in all areas, he can switch onto smaller guards, defend big guys in the post, defend stretch four’s, Adebayo has no weaknesses defensively. Offensively is where Adebayo needed to improve and he did just that. His scoring average increased by almost three points and he increased both his field percentage and free throw percentage.
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