The league’s All-NBA teams were announced today and, as usual, there were more than enough “interesting” decisions to get our jaws moving. Before I give my take on the selections, however, let’s take a look at the teams.
[Notes: The first number in parentheses indicates the number of first-team votes that particular player received, and the second is their total number of points. Five points are awarded for a first-team selection, three for a second-team selection, and one for a third-team selection. The voting panel consists of one hundred and twenty-six members of the North American media, including a representative for each of the NBA’s thirty franchises.]
All-NBA First Team
Guard – Steve Nash (106; 583)
Guard – Kobe Bryant (110; 597)
Forward – LeBron James (116; 610)
Forward – Dirk Nowitzki (105; 584)
Centre – Shaquille O’Neal (45; 402)
All-NBA Second Team
Guard – Chauncey Billups (21; 378)
Guard – Dwyane Wade (13; 373)
Forward – Elton Brand (15; 309)
Forward – Tim Duncan (17; 277)
Centre – Ben Wallace (44; 363)
All-NBA Third Team
Guard – Allen Iverson (1; 104)
Guard – Gilbert Arenas (0; 79)
Forward – Carmelo Anthony (0; 97)
Forward – Shawn Marion (4; 270)
Centre – Yao Ming (30; 261)
The biggest surprise to me was in seeing Yao all the way down in the third team. As I argued , he’s statistically had the strongest season of all (three of) the true centres, and he might be the only reason the Rockets weren’t worse this year. Although it doesn’t take Johnnie Cochran to make an argument for Shaq’s inclusion, the simple truth is that he wasn’t as productive as Yao during the regular season, and for that he should have handed over his first-team spot.
Kobe and Nash did much as I’d expected, although I can’t see how ten voters managed to fill in a first-team ballot that didn’t include LeBron James. Given that he’s listed as a forward, that would mean having to pick Dirk Nowitzki and Elton Brand ahead of him (assuming you’re not totally nuts), and I don’t think there’s any real justification for that. Still, it’s not too shabby going for someone who has only been of legal drinking age for a few months.
Regarding the second team, it’s interesting to note that Elton Brand received more overall points than Tim Duncan, but fewer first-team selections. Brand was the stronger player this season in the eyes of the majority, but it may be that the voters couldn’t shake the memory of Timmy as the league MVP, giving him a pass on the understanding that he’d be back to his old form next season. It’s a fair assumption to make, but since the basis of the picks should be a player’s individual performance throughout the season in question, it’s not reasonable to put T.D. ahead of E.B.
My real beef with the second team is the inclusion of Ben Wallace ahead of Yao. Big Ben may have been the defensive centrepiece of the team with the league’s best record, but few in their right mind would hesitate to trade him for Mr. Ming if given the opportunity. The point has been made a thousand times before, but Wallace’s contributions on defence aren’t sufficient to compensate for his utter lack of offensive talent, with the few points he does score generally coming from alley-oops and put-backs. Furthermore, knowing that he once tried out at shooting guard for the Wizards makes it difficult for me to take him seriously as a centre. It doesn’t help that two players in Detroit’s starting line-up are taller than him, either.
Minnesota’s season may have been uglier than the thought of Chris Kaman in a bikini, but I still would have given Kevin Garnett the nod ahead of Carmelo, who only beat him out for the final forward spot by three points. Gilbert Arenas’ seventy-nine points (the fewest of any player to make an All-NBA team this year) seem unfair in light of the fact that he averaged close to thirty a night and led a respectable Washington squad from the front. Similarly, Allen Iverson deserved more than his one hundred and four points (including one first-team vote) for a season in which he averaged thirty-three and seven, regardless of Philadelphia’s unflattering win-loss record.
We now move on to my favourite part: “other players receiving votes”.
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota, 94
Tony Parker, San Antonio, 66
Pau Gasol, Memphis, 49
Vince Carter, New Jersey, 47
Paul Pierce, Boston, 29
Jason Kidd, New Jersey, 20
Dwight Howard, Orlando, 11
Marcus Camby, Denver, 9
Richard Hamilton, Detroit, 9
Rasheed Wallace (1), Detroit, 8
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland, 5
Nenad Krstic, New Jersey, 5
Ray Allen, Seattle, 4
Mehmet Okur, Utah, 4
Michael Redd, Milwaukee, 4
Brad Miller, Sacramento, 3
Joe Johnson, Atlanta, 2
Sam Cassell, L.A. Clippers, 2
Mike Bibby, Sacramento, 1
Chris Bosh, Toronto, 1
Boris Diaw, Phoenix, 1
Antawn Jamison, Washington, 1
Andrei Kirilenko, Utah, 1
Chris Kaman; L.A. Clippers, 1
Chris Paul, New Orleans/Oklahoma City, 1
Yes, folks, there was one media member who saw it fit to include Rasheed Wallace, he of the , in his first team. I enjoy a tough debate every now and then, but I think I’d have an easier evening picking up soap in a prison shower than arguing that ’Sheed was All-NBA this season. Still, as the man who picked Deron Williams as the Rookie of the Year has shown us, there are those out there who like to be different. Among this quirky group are individuals who apparently saw it fit to give spots to such players as Mehmet Okur and the aforementioned Chris “The Kaveman” Kaman. Why these folks are allowed out of the house, let alone to address the public and vote on the All-NBA teams, is a mystery to me.
Let me know your thoughts on the teams and how they might be improved by commenting in the box below. You can also email me with your thoughts and questions at [email protected].