With the coronavirus situation remaining serious, it is looking more like the 2019-20 NBA season will end without finishing the regular season and without even starting the playoffs.
If the season is done, how would the season’s All-NBA Teams look? Presumably, the league would still award its superstars the recognition of making one of the three top five-man squads.
Let’s predict how the three All-NBA Teams might end up. Remember, voters look not only at statistics, but at team success as well as the number of games each player missed. Also, it’s important to note that positions matter here — each team always has two guards, two forwards and one center on it.
All-NBA First Team (in order of predicted voting points)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (Forward)
- James Harden, Houston Rockets (Guard)
- Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (Guard)
- LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (Forward)
- Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers (Center)
Antetokounmpo is the most obvious inclusion of all of these. He is by far the best player on by far the league’s best team. His brilliance on both ends of the floor makes him the top USA bookies’ prohibitive MVP favorite.
Harden and Doncic are also clear-cut guard choices. Harden’s 34.4 points and 7.4 assists per game on excellent scoring efficiency for a good Rockets team and Doncic’s near 30-point triple double average (28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists) for a surprisingly good Mavericks team are both MVP-caliber campaigns.
James’ fantastic season for the Lakers is highlighted by another near-triple double average (25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 10.6 assists) for a squad that easily leads the Western Conference. His season is probably the second-best performance after Antetokounmpo. However, forward Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers may steal some First Team votes from him, while the guards don’t have a third candidate of his caliber to contend with.
Davis is easily the toughest choice. I personally wouldn’t slot him here because more than 60 percent of his minutes have come together with either Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee (both clear centers) on the floor with him. However, Davis has made the All-NBA First Team twice before as a center and that status could carry over. He is having an excellent season, putting up a career high in true-shooting percentage (61.4) while maintaining strong numbers in a variety of offensive and defensive categories.
All-NBA Second Team (in order of predicted voting points)
- Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (Center)
- Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers (Forward)
- Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Guard)
- Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets (Guard)
- Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat (Forward)
Jokic would be my personal choice for First Team center. He is clearly the main star on a 43-22 Nuggets team and he made the top squad last season with almost identical statistics. However, Davis’ reputation as a center and playing in Los Angeles will likely give him the nod.
Leonard is having an All-NBA First Team caliber season, as well, but there is only room for two forwards in that quintet. Antetokounmpo and James aren’t going to lose out on many First Team votes.
Lillard is the only player of the 15 All-NBA players I’ve selected here that does not play for a top-seven playoff seed. The 29-37 Trail Blazers are having a rough go of it this season, but Dame is posting career highs in points per game (28.9), assists per game (7.8) and true-shooting percentage (61.9). He deserves exactly zero percent of the blame.
Westbrook was a tough choice for me. I could have gone several different directions with this fourth overall guard spot. However, his combination of name recognition, box score stats (27.5 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists per game) and excellent play in recent months makes me think voters won’t punish him too much for a horrid start to the season.
Butler thrived as Miami’s No. 1 option this season, averaging 20.2 points and 6.1 assists per game, both team highs. He remains a monster at getting to the free-throw line and his ability to create offense for himself and others was a godsend for the Heat offense this season. Of course, he is also a fantastic perimeter defender.
All-NBA Third Team (in order of predicted voting points)
- Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (Center)
- Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors (Forward)
- Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (Guard)
- Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder (Guard)
- Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (Forward)
Embiid might have been able to challenge for one of the first two All-NBA Teams this season, but his 21 missed games and the 76ers’ disappointing 39-26 record are definite factors here. On a per-minute basis, Embiid still has an argument as the NBA’s best big man. Foul trouble, a lack of durability and inconsistency still plague him.
The Raptors’ depth and excellent chemistry have been major driving forces behind their amazing 46-18 record, but Siakam and Lowry are clearly the two top players on the team. Siakam has shouldered his new load as Toronto’s No. 1 scorer surprisingly well, taking a major hit in efficiency but staying effective as a defender, rebounder and passer. Lowry does everything well at the point guard spot despite being 34 years old and standing just 6 feet tall.
Paul is just weeks away from his 35th birthday, but he returned to the All-Star Game this year after a three-season absence. It was well-deserved. OKC’s floor general doesn’t have the gaudy box-score numbers of some other players (17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game), but he has been very efficient as a scorer and passer while continuing to play feisty defense.
Middleton just has to earn a spot here. The 28-year-old swingman has squeezed 21.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists into just 30.1 minutes per game for the NBA’s best team while posting a career-high 61.9 true-shooting percentage. His game isn’t flashy, but I’m not letting old-fashioned excellence go unnoticed here.
- Guards: Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
- Forwards: Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs), Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Centers: Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat) and Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Some of these exclusions were tough, most notably Young, Beal, Simmons and Sabonis. However, team success ended up being a major factor for me in breaking ties. All four of the aforementioned players didn’t have as many wins as some of the players who beat them out for Third Team appearances.