Photo By: Ryan from Unsplash
The last SIDELINES of the year is a real dandy. Making my All-NBA team selections is always one of my favourite columns of the year, and this season in particular looks to be especially juicy. I anticipate many words to be written. So without further ado:
As a disclaimer, I know there are some weird technicalities regarding positions, like you can technically put both Jokić and Embiid on your first team, but I’m going to stick with the traditional positions of G/G/F/F/C. Now is Luka Dončić a guard or forward? I’d say both work. What about DeMar DeRozan? I’d say forward, but, I think it’s acceptable to put him at guard if that meant having a more deserving forward as well. But to say Jokić/Embiid are forwards is just too far-fetched, you know? Okay:
1st Team All-NBA
G — Luka Dončić (DAL)
G — Devin Booker (PHX)
F — Jayson Tatum (BOS)
F — Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)
C — Nikola Jokić (DEN)
2nd Team All-NBA
G — Ja Morant (MEM)
G — Stephen Curry (GS)
F — DeMar DeRozan (CHI)
F — Kevin Durant (BKN)
C — Joel Embiid (PHI)
3rd Team All-NBA
G — Chris Paul (PHX)
G — Jimmy Butler (MIA)
F — LeBron James (LAL)
F — Pascal Siakam (TOR)
C — Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)
The first-team frontcourt are super locks for me; don’t think we need to talk about Jokić or Giannis, and with the way Boston has soared up the standings in the second half, and because Kevin Durant has just missed too much time, the absolute dominant two-way play of Tatum makes him the easy pick for the final forward spot for me here.
The first and second-team guards were super tricky, and it very well could change in my head by the end of the season. Of those four, Curry was clearly fourth for me. But the other three all have fantastic first-team arguments. At first I had Booker on the second team, but considering how much better Phoenix has been than every other team in the league, I felt like rewarding their dominance and giving Booker a spot. Morant felt like a lock for the first team, but Luka’s past two months of absurdity came at a bad time for Ja, who’s been out with a knee injury recently, which I think pushed me in Luka’s direction. Over the past two months, Luka’s been averaging 32/10/8 while shooting over 40 percent from three and has vaulted Dallas into the three seed.
The second-team frontcourt was pretty easy, Embiid is going to finish in the top three in MVP voting but unfortunately is stuck behind Jokić for that first-team center. KD is obviously a first-team talent, but has just missed too many games this season. I still think he’s the best player in the league now, or at least the guy I’d most want on my team in the playoffs. DeRozan has had the best year of his career in his 13th season and is finally getting some much-deserved national recognition.
The final two spots on the third team was the other place I struggled; Towns, Paul and Siakam were easy picks — had Paul not missed so much time with that thumb injury, he’d easily leapfrog Curry for that second team spot and might’ve had an argument for first. Towns to me had a better year than Gobert, who was the other contender for third-team center, and the T-Wolves are actually kinda good for the first time in a while. Siakam got off to a slow start coming off of shoulder surgery, but my god has he been one of the best players in the league in the second half. Easy call.
Now this is where I had some difficulty; LeBron, Jimmy Butler and Trae Young were the candidates for the final two spots. Despite how atrocious the Lakers have been, LeBron’s numbers are still bonkers. He’s missed a lot of games, and doesn’t try on defence at times (can you blame him), but I don’t think you can say he hasn’t been one of the six best forwards this season. I do think you can’t put him any higher than third team because of how awful his team has been.
And that’s ultimately what my last spot came down to, Young’s blah Hawks versus Butler’s first-place Heat. Trae’s offensive numbers are far better, though his defence is still very matadorian, and it just felt a bit weird to have zero Heat representatives on any of the teams.
And that concludes another year of SIDELINES. I had a fun time getting to write these every week, aside from the occasional week where I had absolutely nothing cooking for me. I look forward to seeing what this column ends up like next year, ‘cause this is it for me! Thanks to everyone who’s been reading all year long.