Friday, May 25, 2012

The 2011-12 All-NBA Teams

The All-NBA Teams were announced yesterday.  Below is a review of the results and my commentary.

First Team: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul
Second Team: Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker
Third Team: Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade

Comment: Paul played excellently in lifting the Clippers -- a motley bunch of very young players and old hangers-on -- to the status of a fringe contender.  Bryant played well, but took too many shots and made too few of them, averaging 10 of 23 from the field and posting the second-highest usage rate of his career (behind only his 2005-06 campaign, the season of Smush Parker and Kwame Brown).  Parker, who led San Antonio to the best record in the West, probably deserved a spot on the First Team.  Otherwise, the list is unimpeachable: Steve Nash and James Harden could have made a case for inclusion, but it is difficult to remove any of the six honorees from their spots.  Westbrook was a freak, Wade was great, and Rondo brought the Celtics back from despair after they entered the All-Star break with more losses than wins.  Rondo actually ended up leading the league in assists per game.  Several former mainstays of this accolade -- Joe Johnson, Derrick Rose, Manu Ginobili, and Deron Williams -- were either injured or lethargic or both this season and did not distinguish themselves.

First Team: Dwight Howard
Second Team: Andrew Bynum
Third Team: Tyson Chandler

Comment: Who can argue with this list?
Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, Marcin Gortat, Al Jefferson, and Kevin Garnett also deserve mention.  Hibbert, alone among these gentlemen, has the towering stature that David Robinson and Patrick Ewing carried throughout the '90s.  If he can harness his build with the jump-shooting and intimidation skills of the former Spur and former Knick, his place on the All-NBA team will eventually be sealed.  Garnett nominally played center after Jermaine O'Neal left the team; the fairly wiry Bass-Garnett frontcourt was their most common and also most effective.  Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins showed tons of promise on offense, but a 45% field-goal percentage mark is not enough to invite double-teams and properly power an offense.

Tim Duncan played like an All-Star in his 28 minutes per game this season; his per-game statistics (18 points, 9 boards, 2 blocks, and nearly 80% from the free-throw line) would have been transcendent if he played, say, 36 minutes per game like a star center in his prime.  However, I cannot choose a half-time contributor for the All-NBA list.

First Team: LeBron James, Kevin Durant
Second Team: Kevin Love, Blake Griffin
Third Team: Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki

Comment: JPO would probably put Andre Iguodala and LaMarcus Aldridge on the Third Team ahead of Anthony and Nowitzki.  Anthony shot a low percentage all season and missed several games in February during Jeremy Lin's rise to fame.  Nowitzki played poorly in January (15 points, 6 rebounds) and averaged only 21.6 points for the whole season, hardly matching his usual standards.  This was also the seventh consecutive season in which his per-game board numbers dipped from the previous season.  Love was a monster producer on the offensive end, and he ranked twelfth in the league in Adjusted Plus-Minus, showing that his defensive efforts are not as lackluster as commonly advertised.  Griffin was very good offensively, though his defense needs work: witness how Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter ate him for breakfast in the just-completed Spurs-Clippers series.  

Paul Pierce, Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, Josh Smith, Chris Bosh, and Paul Millsap also deserve mention.  Ultimately, the two-way ability of Iguodala and Aldridge puts them in my top six in this category; Deng and Smith also balled hard on defense, but the Sixer and the Blazer balled a bit harder.

Other than all the players I mentioned above, other players receiving votes from the official panel include Monta Ellis, Luis Scola, David Lee, Danny Granger, and Serge Ibaka.  Sorry, but these votes must be a joke.

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