In a chaotic and unpredictable season, determining the All-NBA selections for the 2020-2021 season will be anything but simple.
In a normal year, the three All-NBA teams usually reflect the ten-best players in the game along with five players who had extraordinary seasons but sit outside of the top-20 in terms of player rankings. Superstars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and James Harden combine for over 30 All-NBA selections. However, injuries may bump some of those players off the ballot.
With less than two weeks left in the season, there are arguably more than five spots still up for grabs, which is pretty high at this point in the year. As someone who doesn’t have a ballot, I’m anxious to see how voters weigh certain factors in their decisions.
Does Durability Matter And If So, How Much?
This is my biggest question when it comes to All-NBA this season. Does durability matter and if so, how much? The first question is an easy answer. Yes, durability matters. “Survival of the healthiest” is an accurate way to describe the All-NBA first and second teams. If a player puts up All-Star numbers and missed less than 10 games, then it should strengthen their case for All-NBA. Nikola Jokic is putting up historic offensive numbers, but he’s also played every single game, which ensures the Nuggets’ center will make All-NBA first team.
Durability has to matter, but where will the line be drawn for the number of games played to make an All-NBA team? In a 72-game season, can you play 60 games and still make All-NBA? Steph Curry is a shoo-in to make the first-team despite being a few games over the 60-game threshold so yes, players who played at least 60 games can make the team.
What about 50 games? Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George, three players with great numbers across the board, will cross the 50-game threshold before the end of the season. Despite missing 15-22 games, 50-plus games played will be enough to qualify.
What if it’s below 50 games? This is where it gets interesting because the best player in basketball won’t play 50 games this season. Who is it? Scroll below.
Where Will LeBron James End Up?
A week ago, if you told me LeBron James would miss an All-NBA team, I would’ve said you’re nuts. After news broke that LeBron would need to sit out at least two games this week to rest his ankle, LeBron being excluded from the All-NBA team is more of a possibility.
Do I think LeBron will make an All-NBA team? Yes, but it should not be on the first team. LeBron could potentially miss one-third of the regular season when it’s all said and done. Note that LeBron missed 27 games in 2019 and still made All-NBA Third Team. With averages of 25/7.9/7.8, LeBron will make an All-NBA team this season. It will most likely be the second team, but there is a possibility it’s the third team.
Will One Nets Player Make It?
The Brooklyn Nets are the favorite to win the championship according to OddsShark. However, it’s possible that their three stars, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, will be left off the All-NBA teams. Can this happen? More importantly, should this happen?
Durant, Harden, and Irving are three of the fifteen best players in the league. However, each star has detrimental reasons to keep them off All-NBA. For Durant, it comes down to the number of games played and KD may not even eclipse 35 games. Leaving KD off the teams won’t be a problem.
Harden has played 42 games this season with averages of 25.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 10.9 APG. When he’s played, Harden has looked unstoppable. But, Harden will probably sit for the remainder of the regular season because of injury. More importantly, eight of those 42 games were played as a member of the Houston Rockets. I doubt the media will reward Harden with an All-NBA selection after a tumultuous exit in Houston.
Then there’s Kyrie, who has the best case out of three. Kyrie is averaging 27.0 PPG, 4.9 RPB, and 6.3 APG with shooting splits of .500/.385/.922. Kyrie will end up playing over 50 games on a team that’s in contention for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. However, Kyrie’s off-the-court decisions have dominated the headlines including two leave of absences from the team. During one of those personal breaks, Kyrie attended an indoor birthday party maskless, which resulted in a fine. I’m not here to play moral police, but Kyrie’s off-the-court actions will certainly be held against him.
If the Nets win the championship without an All-NBA selection, it would mark the first time since the 1988-1989 Pistons where a team won a title without having a player who made All-NBA in that particular season.
As teams fight for playoff positions, keep an eye on players vying to improve their All-NBA candidacy.
What are your biggest questions regarding All-NBA? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.