April 13, 2014

All-NBA Picks 2013-14

The All-NBA teams are my favorite awards of the year. The concept for finding out who was best in a certain season that is the All-Star teams is already great. The All-NBA teams take that idea and remove the variables of fans voting for the most popular players over the best like Kobe this year, the East-West division causing greats like Tim Duncan to miss the game while guys like Joe Johnson make it in, and the fact that a midseason analysis can't possibly cover things like Paul George's late season nosedive and Goran Dragic's second half rise. The All-NBA teams give you a definitive ranking of who were the top players at each position in a season. Only a select few get to vote for the actual teams, but that won't stop me from delivering my picks for the All-NBA squads for 2013-14.

2013-14 Third Team All NBA: (find past Third Team All-NBA results here)

G: Tony Parker

Every single year Parker gets underrated because he doesn't put up the kind of numbers that guys like Chris Paul do. It's easy to forget that the guy plays 28 minutes a game like the rest of the Spurs, and his absolutely masterful offensive game. Watch him closely, Tony has some moves that no one else in basketball even dares to try. 

G: John Wall

Michael Conley Jr. deserves consideration for this spot even though he likely won't get it. Conley and Wall actually have similar resumes, from points and assists per game to advanced stats like PER. Wall gets the edge for emerging as the star of the 5 seeded Wizards, while Conley has been at this level for a while and plays with two intimidating big men in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol who help get him looks and assists. Wall doesn't play with anyone close to their level and still has a slight statistical edge on Conley, which is why I gave him the nod. 

F: Carmelo Anthony

If you think the Knicks are a train wreck now, wait until you see them without the perennially underrated Melo next season. Yeah, I said it. Go ahead and call me out on it if it doesn't happen. What reason does he have to stay? By the way, I originally had Anthony on the second team. But with how stacked the forward position is, New York's struggles push him down to third team for me.

F: Dirk Nowitzki

The forward position is absolutely stacked. There were so many candidates for this spot: Anthony Davis has emerged as a superstar, Kawhi Leonard has silently become a defensive assassin and improved his offensive game, Paul George had a great start to the season, Kevin Love carried the Wolves to an above-.500 record. But I have to give Dirk the nod here for being the leader and best player on a team that absolutely never should have made the playoffs. And I have to admit that I've been a huge Dirk fan for years and that any of the above candidates would be just as deserving here. But I'll give Nowitzki the nod, because to me all the candidates are pretty much evil on paperit takes something extra to be the emotional leader and best player on a playoff team, something none of the others can claim.

C: Al Jefferson

Another tough one. I gave the nod to Big Al over Dwight Howard for a similar reason that I chose Dirk for that last forward spot: Jefferson has led the Bobcats to the playoffs with pretty much just Kemba and coach Steve Clifford as help while Dwight has the best SG in the league, one of the best three point shooters in the league, a top defensive point guard, and a solid bench to help him out. Even if the Bobcats wouldn't be in the West playoffs, they're still Al's squad and he's certainly stepped it up in his first year in Charlotte.

2013-14 Second Team All NBA: (past results here)

G: Chris Paul

Despite missing a solid month in the middle of the season, CP3 has been as excellent as ever. He led the league in assists per game by a significant margin and has developed a true chemistry with Blake Griffin. This season we've seen Paul's absolute peak.

G: Goran Dragić

Dragić has made an incredible leap and he's suddenly a very real candidate for one of these spots. He's an extremely efficient scorer and nearly led a Suns cast that looks sub par on paper to the playoffs. I'm hoping Dragić can keep it going through next season- the Eric Bledsoe-Dragić-Gerald Green backcourt was one of the NBA's most exciting this season.

F: LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge is the total leader of that Portland team that became one of the league's biggest surprises, starting off the season hot and never relinquishing a playoff spot. He was an early season MVP candidate and he's redefined what that team is and helped take some of the leadership load off Dame Lillard.

F: Blake Griffin

For the first time in his career, no one is talking about Blake Griffin. Yet he's having what is by far his best season ever. He's improved in all facets of his game- no one can say he "just dunks" now.

C: Tim Duncan

There's no chance Duncan ends up here on the real team- he'll either be on third team or completely out of the race because guys like Dwight Howard and Al Jefferson have more buzz. But man, is the guy efficient. He's averaging very similar numbers to Howard despite playing almost five less minutes per game. It's unbelieveable that the guy can still do this. The debate over whether to call him a center or a forward might also hurt Duncan, but since he was classified as a center in his first-team placing last year I'll keep him there.

2013-14 First Team All-NBA: (past results here)

G: Stephen Curry

While Curry is a defensive liablity, he's a master of offense, probably the league's best offensive player. Steve Nash won two MVPs with that formula, so why can't it work for Curry?

G: James Harden

Like Curry, Harden isn't great at defense, and does sometimes make dumb plays on that end, but his slashing ability is unparalleled in the league. Remember when the NBA's best shooting guard was a debate? Well, now it's not even close.

F: Kevin Durant

Come on, you think I'd leave the MVP off the All-NBA First Team?

F: LeBron James

Come on, you think I'd leave the best player in the league off the All-NBA First Team?

C: Joakim Noah
Joakim is gonna run away with Defensive Player of the year and he's become an amazing passer, something non-Bulls fans might not know. The guy is regularly getting near triple doubles, and since the Luol Deng trade he's averaging over 7 assists per game to go with his double-double in points and boards. This has been a major season of improvement for Noah and he's become the league's best center.

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