Tennen’s All-NBA Teams: The Big 25

 

Three All-NBA teams are voted on by the media at the conclusion of the season. The teams consist of two guards, two forwards and a center. In this era of somewhat position-less basketball, percent of minutes played at a certain position is less relevant for this sake. Keep in mind that amount of games missed is also an important factor. Below highlights my customized All-NBA teams.

 

1st Team:

G) Damian Lillard (POR: 47-27) – 26.2 PTS (44.9 FG%), 6.8 AST, 4.6 REB, 2.6 TO

The Blazers have to win three of their eight remaining games in order to hit the 50-win plateau for the first time since 2014-15. That would be a more-than-impressive feat on Lillard’s behalf considering the teams that Rip City has consistently outplayed.

G) James Harden (HOU: 48-28) – 36.2 PTS (87.7 FT%), 7.5 AST, 6.5 REB, 2.1 STL

MVP or not, Harden had a season for the ages while topping Kobe Bryant’s scoring average of 35.4 points in the 2005-06 season. Bryant attempted 10 free throws per game that year while Harden currently attempts 11 per game.

F) Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL: 57-19) – 27.4 PTS (58.2 FG%), 12.6 REB, 6.0 AST, 1.5 BLK

Being a near 30-point per game scorer without having a great shooting touch is not easy. It’s kind of reminiscent of Tim Duncan…except nearly all high-scoring big men can shoot now and Antetokounmpo plays point guard but still leads the league in scoring in the paint.

F) Kevin Durant (GST: 51-23) – 26.8 PTS (51.6 FG%), 6.5 REB, 5.7 AST, 1.1 BLK

You can put K.D. with any player in the league. Quite evidently, it will have minimal impact on how much he scores. That’s especially the case in the playoffs where he may feel the need to takeover games and put his team in an easier position to win it’s third straight title.

C) Nikola Jokic (DEN: 50-24) – 20.2 PTS (50.7 FG%), 10.8 REB, 7.6 AST, 1.3 STL

Every player on the Nuggets has missed at least one game. Jokic has a strong supporting cast but continuously carried the team through significant injuries – Will Barton missed 40 games, Gary Harris missed 26 games and Paul Millsap missed 12 games.

 

2nd Team:

G) Kemba Walker (CHA: 35-39) – 25.2 PTS (35.4 3P%), 5.9 AST, 4.5 REB, 1.3 STL

Walker has averaged at least 34 minutes per game in each of the last seven seasons. Charlotte finished with a winning record just twice during that time. K.W.’s upcoming free agency should be interesting – he’s expressed his desire to stay put but how obligated should he feel?

G) Stephen Curry (GST: 51-23) – 27.8 PTS (43.1 3P%), 5.4 REB, 5.3 AST, 1.3 STL

Through all of the success and adversity, Curry remains the unquestioned king of the Bay Area. Curry attempts 12 three-pointers per game but that’s far from outrageous when considering all of the talent around him. It’s not like he settles either – it’s just in his DNA.

F) Paul George (OKC: 44-31) – 28.2 PTS (38.8 3P%), 8.1 REB, 4.1 AST, 2.2 STL

George has never had the luxury of playing with a “super-team,” granted anything close. His Pacers teams were tough but borderline contenders at best. PG-13’s offensive production has risen to a supreme level. At almost 29 years old, he should be in the midst of his prime.

F) Blake Griffin (DET: 38-37) – 24.7 PTS (46.3 FG%, 35.7 3P%), 7.6 REB, 5.5 AST

Griffin has developed in that he now controls the game as a primary ball-handler. Interior shots come more difficult as he’s typically the one creating instead of getting fed by Chris Paul. Being a perimeter threat (2.5 3PM) also makes him that much more dangerous.

C) Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN: 33-41) – 24.7 PTS (41.2 3P%), 12.5 REB, 3.3 AST, 1.6 BLK

The two-time All-Star (and many more to come) has been nothing short of sensational this season. Although K.A.T. recently signed an extension, Minnesota shouldn’t sit back and expect him to be satisfied. The team still needs Andrew Wiggins to become that complementary piece.

 

3rd Team:

G) Russell Westbrook (OKC: 44-31) – 22.9 PTS (42.5 FG%), 11.0 REB, 10.4 AST, 2.0 STL

Russ deserves credit where it’s due in the unselfishness department while allowing George to attempt more shots per game than he is. He’s still not the most effective jump shooter but that’s not his game. In addition, his stat-stuffing ways have not held back his relatively strong defense.

G) Bradley Beal (WSH: 31-45) – 26.0 PTS (47.6 FG%), 5.5 AST, 5.1 REB, 1.5 STL

Beal’s individual play has been one of D.C.’s few bright spots this season. It’s clear he’s become the centerpiece of this franchise with John Wall’s nagging injury problems. Beal, the league leader in minutes played, stays in tip-top shape in order to keep the ship afloat.

F) Kawhi Leonard (TOR: 53-23) – 27.0 PTS (49.7 FG%), 7.4 REB, 3.3 AST, 1.9 STL

You wouldn’t automatically know it by the way he plays – but Leonard has evolved into a near-elite scorer in this league. Sometimes it doesn’t turn heads the way some other players are able to. That’s because Leonard can be selective with his shots and he turns defense into offense.

F) LeBron James (LAL: 33-42) – 27.4 PTS (50.8 FG%), 8.6 REB, 8.2 AST, 1.3 STL

Over 95 percent of today’s players were not in the league last time LeBron James didn’t make the playoffs. The Lakers likely would have won several more games with him healthy but they were a first round team at best anyways. L.A.L. has some serious roster construction to do.

C) Joel Embiid (PHI: 48-27) – 27.3 PTS (81.2 FT%), 13.7 REB, 3.4 AST, 1.9 BLK

Embiid is still somewhat of an injury-prone player. However, he doesn’t carry quite as much risk these days and many missed games are for precautionary reasons. Through all the moves it’s made and stars it’s added, Embiid remains the staple of the 76ers franchise.

 

4th Team:

G) Kyrie Irving (BOS: 44-31) – 23.8 PTS (49.0 FG%), 7.1 AST, 5.1 REB, 2.6 TO

It’s been a disappointing year for Boston, who was expected to be the front-runner in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the Celts have been plagued with locker room and chemistry issues. Irving isn’t having an MVP-caliber year by any means but he’s quietly managing well.

G) Donovan Mitchell (UTA: 45-30) – 23.3 PTS, 4.1 REB, 4.1 AST, 1.4 STL, 2.9 TO

This Jazz team is well-established as a defensive powerhouse but Mitchell is largely responsible for keeping the offense up to par. His midseason turnaround and more efficient individual play has caused Utah to act as a disruptive force in the West.

F) DeMar DeRozan (SAN: 44-32) – 21.5 PTS (47.4 FG%), 6.2 REB, 6.2 AST, 2.6 TO

DeRozan is attempting his fewest three-pointers since his second year in the league. His assists are up and he’s not getting to the free-throw line as much, both of which reflect the constant ball movement in Gregg Popovich’s well-oiled offensive machine.

F) Tobias Harris (PHI: 48-27) – 20.4 PTS (49.5 FG%, 41.3 3P%), 7.9 REB, 2.7 AST

Harris has had a phenomenal year in all aspects – especially considering he’s performed at a near all-NBA level for two different teams. Without him, the L.A. Clippers are nowhere near the playoff picture. Now he looks for the Sixers to represent the East in the finals.

C) Nikola Vucevic (ORL: 37-39) – 20.8 PTS (52.0 FG%), 12.1 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.2 BLK

The upcoming free agent is enjoying the best season of his eight-year career. He had similar success in 2014-15 but he wasn’t handling the ball and creating offense at the rate he does now. Vucevic trails only Harden, Antetokounmpo, Towns and Jokic in estimated wins added.

 

5th Team:

G) Jrue Holiday (NOR: 32-45) – 21.2 PTS (47.2 FG%), 7.7 AST, 5.0 REB, 1.6 STL

Holiday, in my humble opinion, is probably the most underappreciated star-caliber player in this league. His impact from an all-around perspective, especially on the defensive end, is not measurable. Holiday can match up with any point guard in the league.

G) D’Angelo Russell (BKN: 38-38) – 20.9 PTS (36.2 FG%), 7.0 AST, 3.7 REB, 1.2 STL

Russell has taken off in his second season with the Nets and is among some of the most clutch players in the NBA. From historically great fourth quarter performances to game-winning shots, Russell has been a promising sight to see for fans in Brooklyn.

F) Klay Thompson (GST: 51-23) – 22.1 PTS (46.9 FG%, 40.1 3P%), 4.0 REB, 1.1 STL

It wouldn’t be fair to call Thompson a shadow of Curry and Durant. He certainly has his breakout games. However, Klay has never been one to take defense lightly. As fantastic a shooter he is, Thompson’s intangibles place him with elite company as a multi-dimensional talent.

F) LaMarcus Aldridge (SAN: 44-32) – 21.3 PTS (51.7 FG%, 85.4 FT%), 9.1 REB, 1.3 BLK

Not much is different with Aldridge this season – he remains a steady post presence and solid interior defender. His durability is perhaps what has made him so valuable over the years. He isn’t what we would call a bruiser down low but he doesn’t necessarily shy away from physicality.

C) Rudy Gobert (UTA: 45-30) – 15.7 PTS (66.8 FG%), 12.8 REB, 2.2 BLK, 2.0 AST

Gobert is a monster when it comes to advanced statistics because he’s an extraordinary rim protector and gets high-percentage looks. He isn’t a modern-day center; he doesn’t have much of a shooting touch but it’s also difficult for opponents to take him out of the game.

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