April 25, 2018

Assume the position: 2018 NBA awards

Injuries and position-less basketball informed my All-NBA selections. Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Rudy Gobert and DeMarcus Cousins all missed at least 20 games (one-fourth of the season). Ben Simmons, DeMar DeRozan and Paul George played forward and guard. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic made up their own positions.

The Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves each earned two All-NBA spots, and the upstart, process-turned-results Philadelphia 76ers picked up two awards.



Most Valuable Player | James Harden, Rockets. 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 53.1 2-point shooting, 36.7 3-point shooting, 85.8 free throw shooting, 29.8 PER, 6.3 RPM. Age [28] He led the league in PER, win shares, scoring, 3-pointers and free throws and finished third in assists for the league’s best team.

2. Anthony Davis, Pelicans
3. LeBron James, Cavaliers
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
5. Russell Westbrook, Thunder

Teammate of the Year | Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves. 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 50.9 2-point shooting, 35.0 3-point shooting, 85.4 free throw shooting, 2.0 steals, 23.7 PER, 6.1 RPM. Age [28] Butler played just 59 games, but he was indispensable. The Timberwolves were 37-22 with him, 10-13 without him. He returned from a right knee injury with three games left and dragged Minnesota to its first playoff berth in 14 seasons.

2. J.J. Redick, 76ers
3. Al Horford, Celtics

Coach of the Year | Brett Brown, 76ers. 52-30.

2. Mike D’Antoni, Rockets
3. Dwane Casey, Raptors

Honorable mention | Alvin Gentry (Pelicans), Brad Stevens (Celtics), Mike Malone (Nuggets), Nate McMillan (Pacers) and Terry Stotts (Trail Blazers)



Rookie of the Year | Ben Simmons, 76ers. 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 55.1 2-point shooting, 56.0 free throw shooting, 20.0 PER, 3.4 RPM. Age [21] A basketball polymath — a 6-foot-10 point guard on offense and a forward on defense, where he was eighth in steals and first in deflections.

2. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz
3. Jayson Tatum, Celtics

Defensive Player of the Year | Anthony Davis, Pelicans. 2.6 blocks, 3.6 Defensive RPM. Age [24] Rudy Gobert made a furious run, but he missed 26 games.

2. Robert Covington, 76ers
3. Rudy Gobert, Jazz

All-Defensive first team | Davis, Covington, Ben Simmons (76ers), Kyle Anderson (Spurs), Victor Oladipo (Pacers)

All-Defensive second team | Gobert, Al Horford (Celtics), Draymond Green (Warriors), Dejounte Murray (Spurs), Ricky Rubio (Jazz)

Sixth Man Award | Lou Williams, Clippers. 22.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 48.4 2-point shooting, 35.9 3-point shooting, 88.0 free throw shooting, 20.2 PER, 0.7 RPM. Age [31] Not just a role player, he was the best player on a winning team.

Bench | Williams, Eric Gordon (Rockets), Will Barton (Nuggets), Kelly Olynyk (Heat), Larry Nance Jr. (Lakers-Cavaliers), Nikola Mirotic (Bulls-Pelicans) and Fred VanVleet (Raptors)



FIRST TEAM | Anthony Davis moved from forward to center when DeMarcus Cousins ruptured a left torn Achilles in late January. At 33, LeBron James played 82 games for the first time, leading the league in minutes, and set career-highs in rebounds and assists for the second straight season. James’s Harden’s 60-point triple-double almost broke the boxscore. Giannis Antetokounmpo played every position on offense, power forward on defense. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double again.

Point forward | LeBron James, Cavaliers. 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 60.3 2-point shooting, 36.7 3-point shooting, 73.1 free throw shooting, 28.6 PER, 4.4 RPM. Age [33]

Forward | Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks. 26.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 55.4 2-point shooting, 76.0 free throw shooting, 27.3 PER, 5.0 RPM. Age [23]

Center | Anthony Davis, Pelicans. 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 55.8 2-point shooting, 82.8 free throw shooting, 2.6 blocks, 28.9 PER, 5.1 RPM. Age [24]

Guard | James Harden, Rockets. 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 53.1 2-point shooting, 36.7 3-point shooting, 85.8 free throw shooting, 29.8 PER, 6.4 RPM. Age [28]

Guard | Russell Westbrook, Thunder. 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 48.5 2-point shooting, 29.8 3-point shooting, 73.7 free throw shooting, 24.7 PER, 4.8 RPM. Age [29]



SECOND TEAM | Kevin Durant is the league’s whiny heel, with seven ejections and a fake Twitter account. Ben Simmons can’t shoot with any range, but it doesn’t matter. He’s an elite decision maker and defensive player. Victor Oladipo, on his third team in three seasons, is the league’s best personnel story. Damian Lillard nearly made the first team, because he takes better shots than Westbrook. Karl-Anthony Towns still hasn’t missed a game.

Forward | Kevin Durant, Warriors. 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 56.5 2-point shooting, 41.9 3-point shooting, 88.9 free throw shooting, 26.0 PER, 3.0 RPM. Age [29]

Point forward | Ben Simmons, 76ers. 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 55.1 2-point shooting, 56.0 free throw shooting, 20.0 PER, 3.4 RPM. Age [21]

Center | Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves. 21.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 58.5 2-point shooting, 42.1 3-point shooting, 85.8 free throw shooting, 24.9 PER, 3.8 RPM. Age [22]

Guard | Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers. 26.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 50.1 8 2-point shooting, 36.1 3-point shooting, 91.6 free throw shooting, 25.2 PER, 5.2 RPM. Age [27]

Guard | Victor Oladipo, Pacers. 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 52.8 2-point shooting, 37.1 3-point shooting, 79.9 free throw shooting, 2.4 steals, 23.1 PER, 5.5 RPM. Age [25]



THIRD TEAM | Paul George and DeMar DeRozan split time between forward and guard, so I slotted them at the former, where there is less competition. Jimmy Butler defended guards on about 60 percent of his possessions. Chris Paul played just 58 games, but he was first in Real Plus-Minus. The Rockets were 50-8 with him, 15-9 without him. Point center Nikola Jokic, 22, might be the best passing big man of all time.

Forward | Paul George, Thunder. 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 45.4 2-point shooting, 40.1 3-point shooting, 82.0 free throw shooting, 2.0 steals, 18.7 PER, 2.9 RPM. Age [27]

Forward | DeMar DeRozan, Raptors. 23.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 49.3 2-point shooting, 31.2 3-point shooting, 82.5 free throw shooting, 21.0 PER, 2.3 RPM. Age [28]

Point center | Nikola Jokic, Nuggets. 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 53.8 2-point shooting, 39.6 3-point shooting, 85.0 free throw shooting, 24.4 PER, 6.0 RPM. Age [22]

Guard | Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves. 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 50.9 2-point shooting, 35.0 3-point shooting, 85.4 free throw shooting, 2.0 steals, 23.7 PER, 6.1 RPM. Age [28]

Guard | Chris Paul, Rockets. 18.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 53.2 2-point shooting, 38.0 3-point shooting, 91.9 free throw shooting, 24.4 PER, 6.9 RPM. Age [32]

Honorable mention | Stephen Curry played 51 games, about 15 away from making the first team. He might have had his best shooting season, with a career-high .675 true shooting percentage, 59.5 percent on 2-pointers, 42.3 percent on 3-pointers and 92.1 percent from the line. Kyle Lowry is still better than DeMar DeRozan. Jrue Holiday is one the game’s best two-way players. Kemba Walker was great in a losing effort. Joel Embiid and LaMarcus Aldridge were tough omissions.

April 21, 2018

LeBron James All-Star team

Brian Windhorst wrote about LeBron James’ current supporting cast after Game 2 of the Cavaliers-Pacers series. Here is the LeBron James All-Star team, the best teammates of his 15-season career:



STARTERS | LeBron, plus two teammates from his Heat championship teams and two from his Cavaliers championship team. Three titles and seven consecutive NBA finals appearances.

Point forward | LeBron James, Cavaliers-Heat. 27.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 54.7 2-point shooting, 34.4 3-point shooting, 73.9 free throw shooting, 1.6 steals, 27.7 PER, 219 win shares, 14 All-Star selections, 13 All-NBA selections. [2004-18]

Guard | Dwyane Wade, Heat-Cavaliers. 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 53.5 2-point shooting, 75.1 free throw shooting, 1.6 steals, 24.5 PER, 37 win shares, four All-Star selections, three All-NBA selections. [2011-14, 2018]

Forward | Chris Bosh, Heat. 17.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 52.9 2-point shooting, 81.3 free throw shooting, 1.0 blocks, 19.4 PER, 34 win shares, four All-Star selections. [2011-14]

Guard | Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers. 22.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 49.9 2-point shooting, 38.7 3-point shooting, 88.3 free throw shooting, 1.3 steals, 21.7 PER, 24 win shares, two All-Star selections, one All-NBA selection. [2015-17]

Forward | Kevin Love, Cavaliers. 17.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 47.7 2-point shooting, 37.7 3-point shooting, 84.2 free throw shooting, 20.1 PER, 30 win shares, two All-Star selections. [2015-18]



BENCH | Mostly post players, but Mo Williams, Ray Allen and Shane Battier give this group enough versatility. LeBron played eight seasons each with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao.

Center | Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cavaliers-Heat. 12.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 48.2 2-point shooting, 79.3 free throw shooting, 1.5 blocks, one All-Star selection, 18.4 PER, 48 win shares. [2004-11]

Guard | Mo Williams, Cavaliers. 16.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 47.2 2-point shooting, 43.2 3-point shooting, 90.4 free throw shooting, 16.7 PER, 18 win shares, one All-Star selection. [2009-10, 2016]

Center | Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers. 7.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 52.3 2-point shooting, 60.0 free throw shooting, 14.7 PER, 33 win shares. [2005-10, 2015-16]

Forward | Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers. 7.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 57.6 2-point shooting, 58.4 free throw shooting, 15.3 PER, 25 win shares. [2015-18]

Forward | Drew Gooden, Cavaliers. 11.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 48.7 2-point shooting, 74.0 free throw shooting, 17.0 PER, 24 win shares. [2006-08]

Guard | Ray Allen, Heat. 10.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 50.1 2-point shooting, 39.8 3-point shooting, 89.4 free throw shooting, 13.8 PER, 9 win shares. [2013-14]

Forward | Shane Battier, Heat. 5.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 45.0 2-point shooting, 38.2 3-point shooting, 71.4 free throw shooting, 9.8 PER, 10 win shares. [2012-14]