Grandstand Central’s All-NBA Team Draft

Fresh off the regular season awards, we made our picks for the All-NBA Teams…in draft form.

At the end of every season, 15 players receive the prestigious honour of being named the best-of-the-best at their craft. It’s a fairly straight-forward process, where everyone lists the players they think are best, and then they tally the votes to determine the first five, the second five and the third five. That seems kind of boring. So let’s try something different. Let’s draft them instead.

Now, for this draft, we’re still having a positional limitation, as well as a numbers one. For example, someone may believe Kevin Durant is first team All-NBA, but there are only two forward spots and we’re not picking five forwards for first team, so Kevin might be out of luck (not sorry Kevin). Picks will alternate between the two drafters, and will not be confined to a strict G-G-F-F-C order format. That means that if a Center goes first overall, that position is off the board for the round, which may force our drafters to begrudgingly select a player they don’t like at one of the remaining guard or forward spots. Let’s begin.

All-NBA First Team

  1. LeBron James (Serge)
  2. James Harden (Brandon)
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Serge)
  4. Anthony Davis (Brandon)
  5. Damian Lillard (Serge)

F: LeBron James (Serge)

Through sheer force of will and shrewd marketing, LeBron has made every NBA season about LeBron. He is the gravitational centre of the modern NBA and we’re all just aimlessly floating around him. Even these playoffs are just a prelude to Decision 2.0.

LeBron is the best in the game and he’ll continue to be the first selection as long as he plays basketball on a level previously inaccessible to mortals, even if he doesn’t make the Finals this year (which would be about 80% his fault, since he helped his buddy Rich Paul strong-arm Cleveland into a mammoth Tristan Thompson contract just because they’re homies. Executive of the Year he is not.)

G: James Harden (Brandon Anderson)

Let’s talk about Kobe. Amidst Harden’s transcendent Game 1 performance, the internet started buzzing about when Michael Wilbon admitted Harden seemed every bit as unstoppable as Kobe:

This is so disrespectful… to James Harden. Harden is more unstoppable than Kobe ever even dreamed of being. Kobe’s career high offensive rating was 115, his best true shooting was 58%, and he averaged 28/6/5 his MVP season. Harden’s averaging 30/7/9 the last three years. He’s only had one season under 115 offensive rating or 58% true shooting. Bryant was a lot of things, but James Harden is a more unstoppable offensive force than Kobe Bean ever was.

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Serge)

That entire paragraph feels like an assault on my being and I will not have it. This has been a particularly difficult month for my Kobe fandom, and it all started with a close friend arguing that Kobe may barely be fringe top-25 all-time. Which made me angry, but what made me angrier is statistical evidence that he was right. But like all Laker fans, instead of defending Kobe vs facts, I will attack another player with petty.

This second forward should 100% be Kevin Durant. He’s incredible and he can score 55 different ways just because he’s bored (and another 30 when he’s trying). Unfortunately, he also didn’t really play particularly engaged for half this season. Giannis started the season on a tear, and managed to get the Bucks into the playoffs despite Jason Kidd’s gargantuan efforts otherwise. He may be a top-5 player right now, and if you disagree, he has the length to reach through the screen and slap you for your indiscretions.

C: Anthony Davis (Brandon)

Durant was 16–9 without Curry, a 52-win pace that basically puts him in LeBron and Giannis range but with worse numbers. I don’t feel like any Warriors deserve a First-Team spot. Curry missed 31 games, and Durant has been the fourth or fifth best forward, depending on how you count this guy. I don’t care if this is cheating. I’m not leaving Anthony Davis off First Team. Dude put up 30/12 post-ASB and dragged a roster I left for dead right into the playoffs. If he’s a center, he’s a no brainer.

G: Damian Lillard (Serge)

I want to be on record as the first outlet to give Dame the long overdue respect and admiration he deserves. Much like everyone else, I enjoyed the theme park ride that is Russell Westbrook, but I got nauseous at times, as I watched him box out his own teammates and look off Paul George as if he was some sort of G-League walk on. Dame’s been the best player on the most unexpectedly successful team this year.

Now, what time is it?

Just kidding, it’s Jrue time, clearly.

All-NBA Second Team

  1. Steph Curry (Brandon)
  2. Joel Embiid (Serge)
  3. Jimmy Butler (Brandon)
  4. Victor Oladipo (Serge)
  5. Kevin Durant (Brandon)

G: Steph Curry (Brandon)

I’m taking the best Warrior and the guy who should be most upset we left him off the First Team, and neither of those is Kevin Durant. While nobody was paying attention, Curry basically matched his best-offensive-season-ever-unanimous-MVP level of play from 2016. He just did it with Durant instead of Harry and missed 31 games. I’m fine bumping him to Second Team for the injury, but let the record show we took him over both Russ and Durant.

C: Joel Embiid (Serge)

You hear that? The booming sound of the marching war drum? That’s the sound of me rectifying the blasphemous selection you made in the first round to let Joel slip this far. I nearly picked him as a guard in place of Dame because positions are just an illusion.

Name me a better centre than Joel Embiid. He’s long, fast, and big enough to be a force across the board, and he was shooting threes and eurostepping his way past opponents like he’s been doing this for years. It’s been a monumental year for both Embiid and fellow Process truthers like myself, seeing all the efforts come to fruition. He is devastating, and if this Philly team adds Paul George next year, no one will ever be able to score again.

F: Jimmy Butler (Brandon)

Embiid may be on PG’s team next year, but he ain’t here. Durant is obviously the top forward on this team but this is a draft and I can get him later. The second spot is pretty clearly Butler vs George, and I’m staking my claim. Here are the things PG is better at: three-point shooting… end of list. Butler is a better defender, a more efficient scorer, a better creator, and a better teammate. Playoff P has a higher one-night ceiling, but I’ll take Butler for 82 games of 45 minutes a game every time.

Enjoy drafting Russ or KD or facing the wrath of the internet if you don’t.

G: Victor Oladipo (Serge)

I really didn’t appreciate you painting me into the corner, so I swung all the way for recency bias. Vic has been a man-possessed, single handedly responsible for Indiana’s 5 seed when I had them fifth from the bottom at best.

An argument for Oladipo is an argument against Russ. As he continues to make Paul George feel like an overpriced accessory, people who emerge from Russ’s shadow get the glow up of the century. Dipo was the best player on the team with the least help (not named LeBron). He deserves this.

F: Kevin Durant (Brandon)

Holy cow, Oladipo? Did I fall asleep and we’re on Fourth or Fifth Team already? How many teams are we doing? Wow. I am.. Wow. I am wow.

Kevin Durant: I am less wow. Release the Twitter bots.

All-NBA Third Team

  1. Chris Paul (Serge)
  2. Karl-Anthony Towns (Brandon)
  3. Paul George (Serge)
  4. Ben Simmons (Brandon)
  5. Russell Westbrook (Serge)

G: Chris Paul (Serge)

Playoff jokes aside, this was the most difficult choice I had to make, leaving out Ben Simmons from the entire exercise in lieu of established talent. Raptors fans will also give me A LOT of shit for not having DeMar here, but Chris Paul surprised me. He came in, adapted to being second banana after spending his entire career ready to wrestle a bear upon a moment’s notice to prove he’s top dog, and never skipped a beat. Harden is the heart, soul, and eurostep that powers Houston, but Chris Paul is the mechanic that keeps the engine running.

C: Karl-Anthony Towns (Brandon)

The way I see it, it’s either Towns or Jokic. I’m not Kevin O’Connoring myself into LaMarcus Aldridge, not on the First Team nor the Third. Towns and Jokic are just a level above offensively.

Jokic is a far better passer. But Towns is better at all the other things. He’s a better shooter at every level. He scores more efficiently and rebounds better. Heck, he even averages more steals and rebounds in a battle of two defensive turds. On top of all that, Towns played almost 500 more minutes. Thanks, Thibs. Oh, right, there was one other big difference:

F: Paul George (Serge)

Do you feel good about yourself Brandon? You should. That was a stellar tweet and I applauded all the way from the back.

Paul George started scorching hot, at times looking like the best player on the Thunder and other times like a glorified spot-up shooter trying to maintain balance against the gravitational pull of comet Westbrook. I’m not bringing up his March because clearly nothing matters until the Playoff P metamorphosis, but he was the most important player for the Thunder (just not in how much oxygen he consumes on court).

F: Ben Simmons (Brandon)

Why must All-NBA be so complicated? It’s 2018. Rank the 15 best NBA players this season, boom, done, All-NBA. This isn’t hard.

Who else deserves this spot? Aldridge and Horford played more of their season at center and are yay-I-guess guys that don’t need All-NBA recognition. I’d be okay with Costco Kobe, but the NBA didn’t make him cross-eligible at forward. You know who is? Ben Simmons.

Players in NBA history to average 15/8/8 for a season: Magic, Oscar, Wilt, MJ, LeBron, Russ, Harden, and Simmons. And he did it as a rookie without a jump shot playing First-Team defense leading a team that won 10 games two years ago to the East 3-seed. We already left Ben Simmons off the All-Star team for Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic. Let’s not screw this up again.

G: Russ…. I can’t believe you made me type this..el Westbrook (Serge)

Russ has averaged another triple-double. Has he done it at the expense of his teammates? Absolutely. Does he care. Probably not. Look, I’d love to be Russ for a day. I don’t think I’d accomplish particularly much, but I want the feeling of my ego being on a one hundred thousand trillion even as I handicap those around me for the betterment of self.

He had another statistically impressive season and he’s done it with better teammates and earning home-court advantage in the first round. That has to count for something. And hey, triple-doubles I guess!!

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