By Cody Williams @TheSizzle20 on April 14, 2014
The 2014 NBA Playoffs are nearly upon us, meaning that the 2013-14 regular season is coming to a close within the week. With just days remaining in the regular season, it’s about that time that we reflect and look back on the body of work that has been put forth this year. What better way to start that than by picking the All-NBA First, Second and Third teams.
The season started out with everyone wondering if Paul George was finally on the level of LeBron James and Kevin Durant. That has certainly changed as we’ve progressed and as the Pacers have dropped off, but that doesn’t mean George still hasn’t had a really nice run in his fourth season in the league.
The youngest player by a pretty wide margin to make it onto one of these All-NBA teams, Anthony Davis weathered a brutal storm of injuries this year with the Pelicans. Not only that, but he’s done so with remarkable productivity, putting up 20.8 points, 10 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.8 blocks per game on 51.9 percent shooting. It’d have been nice to have more team success, but the Brow was too good to ignore.
The center position was actually one of the hardest to pick for the All-NBA teams, largely because several guys have stepped up and there’s only three slots as opposed to six. Howard is deserving of one of those spots, even if he hasn’t fully returned to his old form. He’s anchored a shaky Houston defense and has been solid on the other end as well.
The second second-year player on the All-NBA Third Team, I don’t think you can leave Lillard out of the mix here. Sure, the Blazers have fallen off, but Lillard has done enough to keep them in the postseason mix and has provided more than a handful of big moments. There are plenty of deserving guards, but I think Lillard’s place is near-undeniable.
You could legitimately make a case for Dragic to be a First or Second Team guard, but I settled with him on the third team. Even with that, this has been a masterful year for the Dragon. He’s blown away many of his career-highs, particularly in terms of scoring, and is a huge reason why the Suns have been able to pull themselves into a position where they can make the playoffs.
Blake Griffin has taken his game to another level and is unarguably in the running for third place in the MVP race. He’s expanded his offensive skill-set, improved a bit defensively, and has matured as a leader. If he didn’t play forward, he’d undoubtedly be a member of the First Team. That’s the breaks, though.
Despite the Timberwolves not making it to the postseason, Kevin Love’s production can’t even come close to being ignored. The 25.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists the 25-year-old has averaged this season has been just marvelous to watch. There’s no mistaking the legitimacy of him being on the All-NBA teams.
One could have expected that Al Jefferson would be the most potent offensive option for the Charlotte Bobcats this season. What one could not have expected was just how good he’s been for the playoff-bound Cats this season. The veteran big man has put up 21.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this year with solid efficiency and while improving defensively as well. Hats off to Big Al.
Speaking of things that we didn’t see coming, Kyle Lowry has been an absolute monster for the Raptors this season. There’s a good chance that only one of Toronto’s guard tandem of Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will get an All-NBA nod, making for a tough decision. However, for the way he exploded mid-season to elevate this team, I give the honor to the point guard.
I tried to justify putting Stephen Curry on the All-NBA First Team time and again, ultimately not being able to do so. Make no mistake, he’s raised his game on both ends of the floor and been a legitimate star this season. However, the fact that the Warriors haven’t lived up to expectations is a knock on Curry in my view, leaving him just on the cusp, but not quite making the First Team.
There are a lot of things that I could say about Kevin Durant to justify him being on the All-NBA First Team, but if you watch basketball, you already know what he’s done. He’s the MVP of the league and this isn’t really a question.
Less being MVP, the same things said for Durant apply to LeBron James. Sure, there have been times when it’s seemed like LeBron has been coasting, but LeBron coasting is still remarkable in comparison to the rest of the league.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Joakim Noah is an extremely talented player. However, it’s a bit shocking to see just how good he’s been for this never-quitting Bulls team. Noah has established himself not only as one of the best defenders and toughest players in the league, but also as a catalyst for the team’s offense and a leader. He’s well-deserving of being placed among the league’s best.
Perhaps we’ve gotten somewhat numb to James Harden because the shine of him being in a featured role has worn off, but he’s been every bit as good this year, if not better, as he was in his first season with Houston. His defense is still often a train-wreck, but he’s such a talented and meaningful offensive player that it’s difficult to say he hasn’t been one of the two best guards in the NBA.
I thought about moving Chris Paul down on this list due to his time missed because of injury, but he’s just been too good for that. Even playing in only 61 games to this point, Paul still ranks seventh in the NBA in win shares, which is just an incredible number. Blake Griffin has been the breakout star for the Clippers this year, but Paul is still the heartbeat that will and has carried them.
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