Yesterday, we covered the alone awards. Here’s Allotment 2 of my awards ballot, acceptation I can now accost my activity … oh god, the playoffs are about to start, accelerate advice and/or the best almighty cocaine you accept immediately:
First TeamG Stephen CurryG James HardenF LeBron JamesF Anthony DavisC Marc Gasol
Second TeamG Chris PaulG Russell WestbrookF LaMarcus AldridgeF Blake GriffinC Al Horford
Third TeamG Jimmy ButlerG Kyrie IrvingF Kawhi LeonardF Paul MillsapC Tim Duncan
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
• The toughest omissions: DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Pau Gasol, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Klay Thompson, John Wall, and Damian Lillard.
Let’s alpha with Cousins, who is acutely an All-NBA-level amateur — and apparently a first-teamer in a normal, advantageous season. (Please apprehend that book again, Sacto fans.) He is an unguardable monster in the post, a accomplished passer and shooter, and aback in the able brainy and concrete states, one of the dozen best arresting players in the league.
But this acquainted less like a division of basketball for Cousins than like a accumulating of mini-seasons that don’t add up to enough. There were those august aboriginal 15 amateur beneath Mike Malone, afore Cousins apprenticed meningitis, aback he was aing and aing with Davis in the chase to be the league’s best all-around big man.
When Cousins got aback into the lineup, Malone was gone, abrogation Tyrone Corbin to administer a aegis that morphed anon from solid to incompetent. Cousins was (understandably) beneath aiguille d appearance and blue that the Kings had bizarrely accursed the aboriginal arch drillmaster to bang with him. He slipped aback into some of his affliction habits — lollygagging in alteration defense, accusatory about basically everything, and dabbling on some backing aback he didn’t get the ball.
The Kings mercifully accursed Corbin in favor of George Karl, who installed Cousins as article like a co–point bouncer in an beginning up-tempo system. Cousins put up monster numbers and perked up a bit on defense, but he additionally coughed up turnovers at a amusing amount for a aggregation that looked like it was throwing bits at the bank in absurd games. The Kings afterwards the All-Star breach were appropriately bad on both ends behindhand of whether Cousins was on the attic — a aloft changeabout from the aboriginal bisected of the season, aback Cousins was the alone affair propping up a sad roster.
The end came aboriginal for Cousins because of ankle issues, abrogation him with aloof 59 amateur played — appropriate on the bound of area availability starts to become a absolute affair in comparing brilliant players.
How abounding amateur both meant article to the Kings and featured Cousins arena at his best? Twenty? Twenty-five? It aloof doesn’t feel like abundant to bound two of the league’s ultimate pros in Horford and Duncan. Cousins at his aiguille was bigger than both guys, sometimes by a big margin, but those peaks were abrupt in this accurate season.
I anticipation about binding Horford in as a advanced to accomplish way for Jordan or Cousins, but I didn’t feel absolutely appropriate about it. Horford is functionally a centermost in basically every Atlanta calendar that doesn’t brace him with Pero Antic, and there wasn’t a advanced I acquainted adequate animadversion off the ballot.
Horford and Duncan are do-it-all types for two of the league’s actual best teams, and Horford abnormally has the accomplishment set — and the cutting ambit — to alloy in with about any affectionate of lineup.
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Jordan is aloof as admirable and is not accepting abundant absorption as an All-NBA candidate. I’m not abiding why that is, but my accomplished assumption is that it’s a aggregate of two things:
1. The acumen that he’s an unskilled roll-and-dunk guy who depends on Paul and Griffin to actualize shots for him. Also, he can’t shoot chargeless throws.
2. Doc Rivers’s ceaseless and sometimes cool advancement for Jordan ability accept aching him — admitting not in this space. Rivers has compared Jordan to Bill Russell, haughtily acted as if any animal with a alive academician could achieve that Jordan is the arresting amateur of the year, and lashed out at media critiques afterwards accepting apprehend them. It ability accept created a acumen that Jordan is his little pet project.
And that’s not fair. Jordan has been outstanding this year. I feel abominable not award him a spot. He might be a scavenger on offense, but it takes absolute accomplishment and explosiveness to be a scavenger in the Jordan/Tyson Chandler mold. He can ability any lob canyon and accomplishment abuse a aggregate — alike admitting Griffin isn’t a acceptable abundant ballista to annoyance that additional big-man advice apostle far from the rim.
Even the best active boxout guys can’t accumulate Jordan from the abhorrent glass. He aloof leans on them until they’re beneath the rim, outleaps them, and grabs the brawl for himself. He makes approved big men attending helpless.
Jordan ability not be the league’s best defender, but he’s a actual acceptable one — a absolute bridle at the rim who cleans up a lot of mistakes. Jordan doesn’t accept as abounding abilities in his bag as Duncan and Horford, but he’s abuse acceptable at what he does.
Compare aloof the on-court assignment from this season, and Jordan ability exhausted out Duncan. But Duncan’s on-court case is strong; this isn’t the 80-year-old amateur acceptable an Oscar for some abominable movie. Duncan is 14th in Amateur Efficiency Rating, cutting 51 percent, dishing dimes and blocking shots at career-average ante admitting his age, and arena some of the brainiest back-line aegis in the league. Dude is consistently a footfall ahead. That’s how you abide a alarming rim protector at about 39, with one alive leg.
And you accept to anniversary for Duncan’s boundless off-court value. Ask anyone with the Spurs: He still sets the accent for the absolute organization. He’s still in early, abrogation late, putting in added assignment on some baby allotment of his game. His archetype ripples beyond the NBA’s gold-standard organization, influencing players adolescent and old. That should matter. Horford has the aforementioned ability in Atlanta.
• Favors and Hayward are accepted candidates for one of those third-team advanced spots — and conceivably alike for Griffin’s second-team atom abaft Aldridge. They’ve been absolutely acceptable on both ends, and Hayward agitated Utah’s breach afterwards abundant advice from any ambit blackmail until Rodney Hood emerged over the aftermost 25 games.
Jazz admirers ability ache over Leonard’s admittance on the third team, aback he will alone accomplishment with 64 amateur played. But Leonard aback advantageous was one of the 15 best players in the league, and one of the 10 best over the aftermost two months of the season. He adapted into a monster and alone animated the Spurs aback into the championship chat aloft his acknowledgment from injury. I can’t absolutely explain it, but backbone affairs a bit added to me in giving out alone awards — it was my acumen for allotment Draymond Green over Leonard as arresting amateur of the year — than in selecting the All-NBA teams. Within reasonable playing-time boundaries, I appetite the All-NBA slots to reflect which players put their brand on a accurate division best decisively.
I capital to accolade a Utah guy, abnormally aback the advanced position will accept at atomic one added lock aing division aback Kevin Durant (presumably) allotment at abounding health, but there wasn’t anyone I acquainted adequate removing. Certainly not Millsap, who is artlessly one of the finest all-around players in basketball.
• Pau Gasol has been Chicago’s one frontcourt rock, and he’s been baking from midrange all season. But Chicago has performed aloof as able-bodied with Gasol on the bench, and it has rebounded bigger afterwards him. Gasol and Joakim Noah accept struggled to mesh, aback they both accomplish from the elbows in, and Gasol doesn’t box out or accompany abundant to the table defensively anymore.
He’s been wonderful, but I’d action the Bulls wouldn’t blooper abundant if they gave bisected his account to some aggregate of Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic.
• Paul has a case for a first-team spot, but my MVP election had him abaft Curry and Harden, so it’s accustomed for him to abatement in the aforementioned abode here.
• Butler and Irving belted out Bank and Thompson for the aftermost two bouncer spots, but you can’t absolutely go amiss with any of those four. Butler has absent 17 games, but he plays so abundant aback he’s advantageous that he’s appropriate there with the draft of those candidates in absolute minutes. He’s the best apostle amid them, admitting Bank and Thompson are close, and those two both cooled off afterwards the All-Star break.
Irving has been outstanding all division — the attenuate bouncer who can smoke you both from long ambit and at the rim. He’s still a bare defender, but he’s gotten better; he’s not alone boring the Cavs bottomward anymore. Lillard hasn’t fabricated the aforementioned improvements, and his attempt has been off for abundant of this season. Dwyane Wade has a case, but he’s absent 19 games, he can’t shoot 3s, and he’s mailed in too abounding amateur on defense.
• The aing bank of candidates included Dirk Nowitzki, Zach Randolph, Nikola Vucevic, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, Mike Conley, and Jeff Teague.
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First TeamG Chris PaulG Jimmy ButlerF Kawhi LeonardF Draymond GreenC Andrew Bogut
Second TeamG John WallG Danny GreenF Tony AllenF Anthony DavisC Rudy Gobert
I’ve covered best of these guys aloft and in Allotment I, so I’ll be abrupt here:
• The aboriginal three advanced spots are easy: Leonard, Green, and Davis, three of the eight best defenders in the alliance this season. Picking the fourth was tricky. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist logged only about 1,600 account over a beggarly 55 games. Serge Ibaka absent the aftermost division of the season, and while he’s an able rim protector, he’s not as closed at the added genitalia of defense. A agglomeration of guys accept been absolutely good, but not absolutely dominant: LeBron (started the division in arctic mode), Trevor Ariza, Nerlens Noel, DeMarre Carroll, Aldridge, Favors, P.J. Tucker, Andre Iguodala, Tristan Thompson, Luol Deng, Millsap, and others.
My absolutely awkward solution: about-face Allen to advanced and accolade one of an almighty ample cardinal of guards who excelled on aegis this season. This isn’t alike absolutely cheating, anyway: Allen was the nominal baby advanced in Memphis afore the Jeff Green deal, admitting he’ll avert whichever opposing accession amateur is best alarming on a accustomed night. This is area I admit my anniversary appeal for the NBA to cast to a point guard/wing/big positional arrangement that would added accurately reflect how basketball absolutely works today.
Allen is the league’s second-best ambit defender, abaft alone Leonard, a barbaric on-ball irritant who can booty risks while actual composed abundant to antithesis with catlike quickness. Missing 16 amateur and logging about 800 beneath account than Butler costs Allen his accepted first-team spot.
Wall is the apostle Westbrook could be if the Thunder MVP angry the punch bottomward from 11. Bank is consistently bouncing around, bank his way against the edges of Washington’s arrangement — but endlessly there. Aloof aback it looks as if Wall’s activity to run himself out of a play, he’s aback in some poor shooter’s face, aition a attempt that had looked accessible a breach additional before. His antithesis and accretion acceleration ability be incomparable amid all guards.
Paul and Danny Green hit every step, and they’re still able to accomplish a acceptable cardinal of game-changing plays — steals for Paul, blocks for Green. Green doesn’t accept the accustomed acceleration of these added guys, but he’s long, and he uses that breadth able-bodied — arena angles, blockage absorbed to guys at the hip as they drive, and authoritative the waterbugs who draft by him hit boxy floaters over advice defenders.
Those bristles ambit guys bend out a accumulation that includes (in accession to the wings called above) Khris Middleton, Kyle Lowry, Eric Bledsoe, Wes Matthews, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Mike Conley, Gerald Henderson, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and others.
Jeff Haynes/NBAE/Getty Images
Reminder: The NBA does not use positional designations for the All-Rookie teams.
First TeamAndrew WigginsNikola MiroticNerlens NoelElfrid PaytonJordan Clarkson
Second TeamMarcus SmartJusuf NurkicBojan BogdanovicLangston GallowayRodney Hood
There are absolutely alone two credibility of articulation here: the aftermost first-team spot, amid Clarkson and Smart, and the final three second-team spots, which could go to anyone amid a army of guys who afflicted alone genitalia of the season.
Smart had the aftermost first-team atom on this election until the aftermost three weeks or so, aback Clarkson overtook him with some accurately solid scoring and distributing for a abject Lakers team. Smart brings a atypical accomplishment — on-ball aegis — that shines brighter than any one affair Clarkson does, but Clarkson’s complete all-around comedy on breach is abundant to win by a nose. This is not a case of a adolescent aptitude gunning for numbers on a go-nowhere aggregation beggared of any added ambit options.
Clarkson could accept played that way. Lord knows some of his teammates accept been block stats as they access chargeless agency. But he’s been anxious on the pick-and-roll, slowing bottomward to dispense the defense, gluttonous out abridged passes, and calm himself for a reliable midrange pull-up. Clarkson has a nice pick-and-roll allure with Tarik Black, which is a book that somehow applies to a aggregation that had Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash two years ago.
Smart is a multipositional alarm on defense, afar bigger than Clarkson, but he’s decumbent to the sorts of overeager errors accepted amid able rookies aggravating to accomplish things happen. Give him a little arch affected against a pick, and Smart ability overcommit that way, abrogation a bright lane on the added side. He’ll action for steals, abatement victim to the casual backdoor cut, and dissipate himself appropriate out of Boston’s scheme.
Again: He’s already a solid defender, and he’s activity to be a abundant one soon. He’s additionally cutting 33 percent from deep, beneath the alliance average, but bigger than about anyone accepted of him as a rookie. That’s a abundant sign, and it ability be abundant to acreage him on the aboriginal team. But he’s disturbing angrily from 2-point range, and he has looked acting active to the bassinet for best of the season. Smart’s deserving, but Clarkson edges him here.
Nurkic should be an automated on the additional team, and he looked to be on clip for the Clarkson/Smart first-team atom until he got aching and again fell to the bound of the circling in Melvin Hunt’s turbo small-ball system. But Nurkic’s best stretches can attempt with those of any rookie, and that’s abundant to assert a second-team spot.
Bogdanovic briefly absent his circling atom to Sergey Karasev, but he reclaimed it and has emerged as a acute late-season bank cog on a aggregation angry for its playoff life. He can alloy with Brooklyn’s starters as a spot-up threat, sometimes closing amateur aback he’s rolling, and about-face into added of a scorer access with advancement units.
Galloway and Hood snag the aftermost two spots over K.J. McDaniels, Zach LaVine, Jerami Grant, Black, and a brace of added candidates. Hood is almost activity to able the 50 games/1,000 account threshold, but he’s hit 36 percent from abysmal and done some chic assignment as a accessory ball-handler — and alike as a aboriginal advantage at times over the aftermost 10 days, with both Hayward and Favors hurt. And he’s done that as allotment of a solid aggregation still aggravating to win games. Galloway has pulled some nice two-way assignment for a afflicted aggregation over the aftermost bisected of the season, and he’s hit some of New York’s alone accepted clamp shots.
There aloof aren’t a lot of rookies with 70-plus amateur of able comedy on their résumés. In that context, I’m adequate demography guys who logged alone 45 or 50 amateur advanced of those who ability accept appeared in bristles or 10 more — provided they accomplished college peaks.
Grant has been all over the place. McDaniels cooled off afterwards a hot alpha in Philly and again vanished in Houston, but I wouldn’t artifice if you slid him aloft Hood or Galloway. LaVine has caked in some high-scoring amateur over the aftermost month, but he spent 75 percent of the division attractive absolutely out of his abyss — not shocking, because his age. T.J. Warren, a arch cutter, bankrupt the circling in Phoenix too late.
And that’s it. Now there’s aloof the amount of chief the 2015 NBA champions.
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