The 2017 All-NBA teams were announced Thursday afternoon, and the media did a pretty good job of selecting the three squads. There were some egregious individual votes and a few questionable choices, but arguments can be made for each player who made a team:
NBA announces All-NBA teams. Neither Paul George nor Gordon Hayward made it. Thus, no supermax for either this year. pic.twitter.com/GbHl82Ss9G
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 18, 2017
Let’s look at some of the key decisions.
The first team
To the surprise of nobody, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard made the first team. These four separated themselves in the MVP race by the end of the season and were no-brainer selections.
What is surprising is that Harden was the only player to receive 100 out of 100 first-team votes. James and Westbrook received a second-team vote apiece, while Leonard got three second-team votes and even one third-team vote. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green all stole first-team votes from those other three players.
The center choice was a tight race. Anthony Davis ultimately got the nod over Rudy Gobert by a mere four points. I chose Gobert on my fake All-NBA ballot because of his incredible defensive impact and vast offensive improvement on a really good Utah Jazz team, but Davis was incredible in his own right:
While Davis’ raw production was immense, Gobert finished with an advantage in most of the advanced metrics. You can’t go wrong with either guy.
No Paul George or Gordon Hayward
A lot of money was riding on the vote for Paul George and Gordon Hayward. If they made one of the All-NBA teams, they’d be eligible for an extra $30 million from their own teams as part of a super-max Designated Player Extension. This would mean they’d have to take over $70 million less if they signed elsewhere as free agents.
They didn’t make All-NBA:
With Paul George, Gordon Hayward left off All-NBA teams, Pacers and Jazz lose chance to re-sign them to 5-year, $207M super-max contracts.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) May 18, 2017
This takes away a key advantage for the Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz when it comes to trying to re-sign their stars. There’s been a lot of noise about George wanting out and having an eye on the Los Angeles Lakers when he hits free agency next year, and the inability to get that extra money from the Pacers could be the extra push out the door he needs. He could still get the super-max deal next summer with an All-NBA selection in 2018, but Indiana might not wait around to see if that happens.
Hayward is in a better situation in Utah, but perhaps he gets a wandering eye for a team such as the Boston Celtics this summer. Hayward, of course, played for Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler.
It’s unfortunate that the rules are set up where so much money is riding on a media vote, but in this case neither George nor Hayward deserved a spot despite excellent seasons. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Durant, Jimmy Butler and Green nabbed the other forward spots after James and Leonard, and all those players had better years.
Durant missed a quarter of the season but played like a top-5 player when healthy. The Greek Freak had a historic season. Green is a Defensive Player of the Year front-runner and led one of the best offensive teams of all time in assists. Butler was clearly superior to George and Hayward:
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) May 18, 2017
This is simply a testament to the deep talent pool in the NBA.
DeMar DeRozan over Chris Paul for third team
Harden and Westbrook were the obvious first-team choices at guard. Curry, Isaiah Thomas and John Wall were all rather easy guard selections. That left a bunch of really good players fighting it out for the final guard slot.
I chose Chris Paul, but the media vote went to DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan getting love is understandable given he had a career season (27.3 PPG) and helped lead the Toronto Raptors to the third seed in the Eastern Conference despite Kyle Lowry missing a good chunk of the season. Paul missed a quarter of the season himself, which likely docked him points.
However, Paul’s overall impact was far greater than DeRozan’s:
Also, Durant seemingly wasn’t downgraded for missing time, so Paul shouldn’t have been, either. The fact that the Los Angeles Clippers slightly underwhelmed may have played into this, as well as the fact that Paul’s basic numbers weren’t all that gaudy. This isn’t something to get up in arms over, but Paul was the more deserving player.
The final center spot
The third-team center spot was a complete toss-up. DeAndre Jordan got it, but you could’ve gone with Karl-Anthony Towns, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, Hassan Whiteside, Nikola Jokic or Al Horford and the selection wouldn’t have been outrageous. Nobody really stood out, so going with Jordan’s two-way importance on a good Clippers team shouldn’t cause any outrage.