The NBA announced its 2013-14 All-NBA teams on Wednesday afternoon, with newly minted Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder ranking as the lone unanimous selection to the First Team, as MVP runner-up and Miami Heat star LeBron James finished one vote shy of joining him in earning that distinction.
A panel of 125 broadcasters and sportswriters voted for the top three All-NBA teams, with two forwards, two guards and one center each getting five points for a first-team vote, three points for a second-team vote and one point for a third-team vote. Durant got a maximum possible 625 points after averaging career highs in points (32 points per game, good for his fourth scoring title) and assists (5.5 assists), joining Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as just the fourth player ever toaverage 32-7-5 over the course of a full season. James appeared on 124 out of 125 ballots after finishing third in the league in scoring, 10th in assists and fourth in field-goal percentage, shooting a career-high 56.7 percent, making this the seventh straight season in which he's improved his accuracy. (You can check out the full voting results here, if you'd like.)
Here's how the balloting for all three All-NBA teams shook out:
• F: Durant (fifth first-team selection)
• F: James (eighth)
• F: Blake Griffin, Clippers
• F: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
• C: Dwight Howard, Rockets
• C: Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets
• G: Damian Lillard, Blazers
Paul received his sixth All-NBA nod, and his fourth first-team berth, after leading the NBA in assists (10.7) and steals (2.48) per game, while also averaging 19.1 points and 4.3 rebounds, and finishing sixth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating. First-team recognition is the second nicest thing he's received of late.
This marks the first ever All-NBA selection for Noah, who was named the league's 2013-14Defensive Player of the Year and the leading vote-getter on the All-Defensive Team, and averaged a career-high 5.4 assists per game to become the first center in a decade (andjust the sixth ever) to dish it at that level. It's the second straight All-NBA berth, and first first-team selection, for Harden, who finished fifth in the league in scoring at 25.4 points per game, averaged a career-best 6.1 assists per contest, and was one of only two players (alongside James) to put up 25-6-4 a night this season.
Among second- and third-teamers, Howard makes his eighth All-NBA appearance, Parker his fourth, Griffin his third, while it's the second time around for Love, George and Aldridge, and a career first for Curry, Jefferson, Dragic and Lillard.
As Grantland's Zach Lowe has reported, the results bring a financial boon for the Pacers' George, the value of whose max contract now rises from 25 percent of the salary cap to 27 percent, and Noah, who gets an extra $500,000 for making first team. (The Bulls still appear to have managed to avoid the luxury tax line, though, which means this works out nicely for both sides.)
While the teams as laid out here seem pretty sound, one result many have quibbled with on Wednesday is Harden landing one of the first-team guard spots over Curry, who led the NBA in 3-pointers made and attempted for the second straight year, who finished seventh in the league in points per game and fifth in assists per game, and who — while not exactly a stalwart defender — wasn't quite the disinterested defensive disaster that Harden was this season. This is a reasonable argument, although I have a slightly harder time getting exercised about a "snub" when Curry still made the top 15 (and, really, top 10, and top four guards).
One name you don't see on that top 15? Russell Westbrook. The 25-year-old Thunder point guard had appeared on the All-NBA second team in each of the last three seasons, finished the season eighth in the league in PER and averaged just below 22 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals per game for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Westbrook, it seems, found his exclusion humorous:
Russell Westbrook laughs at your All-NBA Team selections - pic.twitter.com/m5o0tychbF— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) June 4, 2014
I guess someone reminded him that he missed 36 games due to multiple knee surgeries and played a career-low 1,412 minutes, because he deleted that tweet pretty quickly after posting it. Westbrook backers might note that the Clippers' Paul made first team despite also missing a significant chunk of the season due to a shoulder injury; that's true, but CP3 played in 16 more games, spent 759 more minutes on the floor and was the most productive point guard in the league on a per-minute basis, which makes his selection a lot easier to support. Here's hoping Westbrook stays healthy enough next season to get back on the board.
Your five nearest misses on the All-NBA teams:
• Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: Received one first-team vote and tallied 86 total points after finishing second in the league in scoring (27.4 points per game) and ninth in PER on a 37-win Knicks team that finished a game out of the playoffs;
• John Wall, Washington Wizards:, Received 70 total points after leading the NBA in assists and posting top-10 finishes in minutes played (fifth), total steals (sixth), assists (second) and steals (eighth) per game, and scoring a career-high 19.3 points per contest for a Wizards squad that made the second round of the playoffs for the first time in nine years;
• Tim Duncan, Spurs: One first-team vote, 63 total points after finishing in the top 10 in both rebounding and block percentage while anchoring the No. 4-ranked defense in points allowed per possession and chipping in 15.1 points and three assists per game;
• DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors: Received 56 total points after top-10 finishes in minutes (third), free throws made (fourth) and attempted (sixth), total points (eighth) and points per game (10th) to help lead the Raptors to their first Atlantic Division title since 2006-07;
• Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: Received one first-team vote and 40 total points after finishing fourth in PER, first in blocks per game and block percentage, and being one of only five players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds this season and one of only three since 1946-47 to do so in his age-20 season.