G Dwyane Wade
G Kobe Bryant
F LeBron James
F Kevin Durant
C Dwight Howard
These selections feel pretty obvious to me. I should note that, for all three teams, I list the players in rank order within position. D-Wade was the first guard on my team while Kobe was the second and so on.
G Steve Nash
G Deron Williams
F Dirk Nowitzki
F Amare Stoudemire
C Andrew Bogut
Nash and Williams or Williams and Nash. They were clearly the third and fourth best guards in the league this year. The last game of the year ultimately determined my order for them.
Believe it or not, I almost feel badly for Dirk Nowitzki. Sure he’s won an MVP and is the NBA’s best European player ever but he’ll probably end his career as a top 50 all time player with only 1 or 2 First Team All-NBA selections. As great as he’s been (again) this year, he not only doesn’t make first team this year, but he could have easily fallen behind Amaré and Carmelo. The Mavs finished ahead of the Suns and although Dallas has more team talent, Dirk gets credit for being the only top level guy on his team. Amaré and Carmelo both have dynamic point guards who score well and require lots of defensive attention from opponents. So narrowly, I have Dirk, Amaré then Carmelo.
As I mentioned yesterday, Andrew Bogut has had a sensational season and clearly deserves this second team nod. At this time last year, I anticipated this slot being filled by Andrew Bynum, Yao Ming, Greg Oden or Andrea Bargnani. I’d given up on Bogut being more than a serviceable center but I was absolutely wrong.
G Joe Johnson
G Brandon Roy
F Carmelo Anthony
F Zach Randolph
C Brook Lopez
Johnson and Roy are similar players with similar teams. Johnson gets the nod due to his better health and Atlanta’s team success. Next year may be the season when Roy leaps ahead of him but since Chris Paul will likely be healthy, third team may be B-Roy’s level for the next couple years.
Carmelo was an easy choice here but Z-Bo was not. Lots of folks will probably pillory this choice but virtually all his numbers are in line with the other candidates and he did this great work on a radically transformed team with other scoring happy guys. Randolph kept the Grizzlies in playoff contention even though most of us thought they’d be lucky to win 30 games. And maybe the most amazing thing of all; Zach Randolph made his teammates better. The other four starters for Memphis all did more than could have been expected this year with Z-Bo as the anchor, lightning rod and leader.
Brook Lopez is the center choice for me. Al Horford got the All-Star nod but didn’t deserve it and David Lee put up nice numbers but in a system and environment conducive to great stats, didn’t deliver those. Let’s just put it this way: Wouldn’t you trade David Lee if you could get Brook Lopez, right now?
Honorable Mention (next 10 regardless of position)
Carlos Boozer Tim Duncan Chauncey Billups Paul Pierce Rajon Rondo Pau Gasol Chris Bosh Danny Granger David Lee Chris Paul
Out of these ten guys are 8 forwards (Lee is only a center because the Knicks’ legit centers are atrocious.) which means they get squeezed out. Were Duncan willing to be labeled a center (which he really has been since David Robinson retired) he would have been second team. The other guys will have to settle for All-Star games. Rondo has a chance at making All-NBA next year if his mid-range game improves and CP3 may combine with Darren Collison to form the best backcourt in the league next year. Even if Collison regresses some, as long as Paul is healthy he should battle Wade and Bryant for 1st team honors.