2016-17 All-NBA First and Second Team
The 2016-17 All-NBA First Team consists of four no-brainers, but several young, budding stars fill up the rest of the spots.
With the regular season wrapping up and the NBA playoffs just a week away, it’s time to distribute some awards. The NBA is full of superstars, but these ten players make up the All-NBA First and Second Team.
It’s a good thing nobody will ever to play against these teams. The Harlem Globetrotters wouldn’t even stand a chance.
All-NBA First Team
G: Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
G: James Harden (Houston Rockets)
F: LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
F: Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
F: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
Russell Westbrook murdered the stat sheet in 2016-17 and is a no-brainer when it comes to the All-NBA team. Westbrook leads the league in scoring, assist rate and usage rate, which is the highest in league history. His offensive game speaks for itself, but even Westbrook’s defense has taken a huge step forward this season. We all knew after Kevin Durant’s departure from Oklahoma City, Westbrook would be playing with a ferocity unmatched and he did just that, setting the NBA record for most triple-doubles in a season.
James Harden has had a phenomenal season in Houston and is the facilitator for one of the best offensive teams in the NBA. Harden just makes life easier for the Rockets and is the reason some think Houston could dethrone Golden State in the playoffs. Harden is averaging over 29 points and creating over 27 points per game just off assists alone. At worst, he should be Co-MVP. As for the All-NBA Team, Harden is a no-brainer and a lock to be on the first team.
Kawhi Leonard is the best two-way player in the NBA and is gearing up to lead the Spurs on yet another championship run. Leonard won’t win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year, but he’ll finish in the top three for both awards. After entering the league and carving a name for himself based off his defensive play, Leonard’s offensive value has sky-rocketed. It’s no coincidence Leonard has the basketball in his hands come crunch time. After averaging 25.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game, it’s clear Leonard has taken over Tim Duncan’s previous role as face of the franchise.
LeBron James is LeBron James. Cleveland’s own has taken a lot of criticism of late due to the Cavs’ poor play, but James has still had a spectacular season. Thanks to the reemergence of his 3-point stroke, James is as difficult to guard as he’s ever been. After rebounding and distributing the basketball at career-high rates, James is ready to lead Cleveland on another title run. Like Westbrook, Leonard and Harden, James is a no-brainer for the All-NBA first team.
Once again, Anthony Davis led the New Orleans Pelicans on both offense and defense. The “Brow” does it all. When Davis was on the bench, offensive and defensive possessions plummeted. The Pelicans’ star averaged 28 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Without Davis, the Pelicans wouldn’t be a fringe playoff team, they’d be a lock for a top-three pick in the NBA Draft. It really is a shame Davis plays in New Orleans instead of a big-market such as Boston, Los Angeles or New York.
All-NBA Second Team
G: Isaiah Thomas (Boston Celtics)
G: Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
F: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
F: Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
C: Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
The 5-foot-9 former last pick of the draft, Isaiah Thomas, is concluding an offensive season that has rarely been seen in Boston. Thomas is just the sixth Celtic to score 2,000 points in a season and is also the franchise leader for 3-pointers (243 and counting) in a season. Boston’s favorite point guard is averaging 29.1 points per game, which would place second all-time in team history. If the playoffs started today, the Celtics would be the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference. Celtics’ fans can thank the leadership and play of Thomas for that.
Some are saying Stephen Curry has taken a step back this season, but all the man has done is average over 25 points per game, over six assists per game and leads the league in 3-pointers (319). There’s a reason the Warriors played their best basketball of the season once Durant went down due to injury and Curry resumed control of things. The Warriors are at their best when Curry is lighting the world on fire and opposing coaches are losing sleep as they attempt to come up with a scheme that attempts to limit Curry’s output.
In a span of a year, Giannis Antetokounmpo went from a top-100 player to a top-10 player in the league. Also known as the Greek Freak, Antetokounmpo affects the basketball game in every way possible. He’s is on pace to become the first player in league history to finish in the top-20 in total points, rebounds, assists, steals AND blocks. What can’t this man do? In a normal year, Antetokounmpo would likely be the MVP, but in 2016-17, the Bucks’ third playoff appearance in six years will have to do.
Despite missing a month of action due to injury, Kevin Durant was still a top-five player in the NBA this season. Many questioned how Durant would transition into his new role with the Warriors, but it was easier than one, two, three. At the beginning of the season, Durant was the best player on the best team and in the thick of things in the MVP race until his injury sidelined him. In 61 games this season, Durant is averaging 25 points per game and shooting 48 percent from the field.
Rudy Gobert is the glue to the Utah Jazz. As a top Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Gobert has also morphed into the Utah’s No. 1 scoring option. Averaging 14.1 points per game and 12.8 rebounds per game, Gobert has turned into an automatic double-double machine as well as the best rim protector in the league. Gobert’s 2.66 blocks per game is the best in the league. According to basketball reference, Gobert is set to become the only player to average 14 points, 12 rebounds and average 2.6 blocks while posting a shooting percentage of at least 68 percent.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Keith Allison courtesy of Creative Commons