The All-NBA teams are the one award each year where I think the NBA actually gets the selections correct. The All-Star game is quite the joke, and so is the process in which they use to determine their selections. For example, two years ago (2015-2016 season) Damian Lillard wasn’t voted one of the 24 players selected to the All-Star game, but was then selected the All-NBA second team. How is that even possible? Each All-NBA team consists of one center, two forwards, and two guards. So that means Lillard was voted one of the top-4 guards in the league that year. However, he somehow wasn’t qualified as one of the top 8-12 guards to be selected as an All-Star. Ridiculous. This season is going to be a tough selection for the voters, as there are so many players having fantastic years. LeBron James has the most first-team selections in NBA history with 12, but he likely won’t be selected to the first unit this year with the way the Lakers have looked. Read below to find out who I think deserves to make the 2018-2019 All-NBA teams, respectively.
Joel Embiid – Center
Joel Embiid is the most dominant center the league has seen since Shaq. The footwork and shooting touch he displays at 7-foot tall and 250 lbs are incredible. Embiid is currently fifth in the league in scoring with 27.3ppg. He’s also averaging 13.5 rebounds per game and anchoring the 76ers defense. It’s crazy to reflect on where this guys game was at just a few short years ago. When he was selected number 3 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, Embiid was viewed as just a big who could dominate the paint defensively, get second chance rebounds, and score off putbacks. Fast forward five years and Embiid has mimicked Hakeem’s footwork and established a shooting stroke that no other 7-footer in NBA history has displayed. Embiid can step out and hit threes, take you off the dribble, destroy you in the post, and shoot over the top of anybody that matches up against him. It’s unbelievable to watch. At just 24 years of age, the era of Embiid is only just getting started.
Paul George – Forward
Paul George is having a career year on both ends of the floor and is proving his worth every game. He’s arguably surpassed Kawhi Leonard as the games best two-way player and has cemented himself as an elite game-changer on both ends of the floor. When the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired George before last season, it was assumed that they were getting a star #2 to pair with Russell Westbrook. Someone who could and would be #2 next to Russ, #1. No one would have believed you if you said George would become the #1. But, that’s exactly what happened. PG has become the best two-way player the game has to offer, and also one of the games best closers. George is averaging a career-high 28.6ppg, second in the NBA, trailing only Harden. PG is not only on track to become the NBA’s defensive player of the year, but he’s also on pace to make over 300 three-pointers, something only one player in history has done, Steph Curry. Pretty elite company if you ask me.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Forward
The Greek Freak has gone from afterthought, unknown draft pick, to must-see-tv and the likely MVP of the league in a short six years. His game has developed to manifest in soaring dunks, blocked shots from the weak side that defy logic, wraparound passes to open shooters, and crossover dribbles that leave defenders reeling in his impossibly long-limbed wake. The Bucks entered the season as just another team in the weak eastern conference. Fast forward six months and they have the league’s best record and arguably best player. Giannis is like a hybrid of Durant’s length, and LeBron’s athleticism and strength. He imposes his will on each and every opponent. He’s an absolute matchup nightmare. You can’t put a wing on him, because he’ll manhandle them with size and strength, and if you put a big man on him he’s going to blow right by them before they even realize it. With rumors surfacing about his Mamba type mentality and his commitment to being a complete gym rat, the sky’s the limit for this 24-year-old.
James Harden – Guard
James Harden is the ultimate wizard in isolation. Arguably the deadliest player ever in a one-on-one matchup. His signature step-back has become completely unguardable, and he’s been torching every team in the NBA with it, one by one. The side-step and stepback have become his go-to shots, and he’s made them unguardable. If you even think about sticking your hand out, he’s going right through to create contact and get to the free-throw line, where he leads the league in both attempts and makes. It’s almost like a cheat code. This season Harden has already attempted more stepbacks than the rest of his career combined, and it’s paying off as he’s averaging a league-high 36.7ppg, more than 8ppg than his closest competition. If it were my decision, the MVP would belong to “The Beard”.
Russell Westbrook – Guard
Many of you are going to read this and think Curry belongs here. But, to me, what Russ brings to the game is more valuable than any other point guard in the league. Many may not know this, but Russ has the most go-ahead field goals in the final minute in the entire league with 15. Not only has he proved to be clutch, but he plays with the energy and effort of an estranged rabbit pumping morphine through its veins. The man is everywhere. He’s averaging a triple-double for the 3rd consecutive season, leading the NBA in assists per game, and the only point guard, shooting guard, or small forward who’s top 20 in the NBA for rebounds per game where he ranks 11th in the league. The guy does it all. He’s also 3rd in the league in steals, a category where he and teammate PG both rank inside the top-3. Yes, you can argue his shooting abilities, and shot selection. We all know he’s not an elite shooter. But, I’ll take a point guard who can score 20+ points per game without an elite shot and is ELITE at everything else on a basketball any day of the week. Let’s also not forget that Westbrook set the record for most consecutive games with a triple-double earlier this season with 11 straight. Can’t wait to watch the Brodie in the playoffs. 22.4ppg, 10.8apg, 11.2rpg. Sheesh.
Anthony Davis – Center
If AD didn’t demand a trade, which in return resulted in the team limiting him to a maximum 21 minutes per game, he’d be on the first team for me. But due to that, his effectiveness is going to be limited for the rest of the year. Still, he’s putting up 27.1ppg, good for 6th in the league. Before the trade demand, AD was making his case for the best player in the league when he was being given a full workload. He was putting up videogame numbers. When and if Davis is traded in the offseason, expect him to make a serious push for the MVP on his new squad, the guy is that talented.
Kevin Durant – Forward
For much of the season, the buzz around KD has been centralized around his looming free-agency coming at seasons end. What hasn’t been spoken about enough is KD’s effectiveness and dominance. Currently sitting at 4th in the league with 27.6ppg, Durant’s effortless scoring ability has been on display yet again. The man scores so effortlessly you’ll be watching a game and not even notice he has 40. It’s that easy for him. Usually, a staple on the first team selection sheet, Durant’s relegation to the second tier isn’t a knock to his ability or season whatsoever. He’s still arguably the best player in the world in any given basketball debate. It’s just a recognition that Giannis and PG are having better seasons as forwards and deserve the spots. If Durant didn’t play for a team with so many star players, his individual numbers would be off the charts, and he’d not only be a 1st-team selection but likely the MVP as well.
Kawhi Leonard – Forward
“The Claw’s” first season with Toronto has been everything the Raptors could have hoped for and some. The Raptors have the second best record in the eastern conference and the third best in the entire NBA. Kawhi’s also averaging a career high 27ppg. Leonard is your prototypical do-it-all superstar, except there’s one thing missing. The only knock on Kawhi’s game is his ability to consistently raise his teammates play and get the best out of their skill-sets. If Kawhi can develop into a slightly better playmaker, he’s the best player of his generation. He checks the elite box off in every other category. For Toronto to reach their first NBA Finals in franchise history, they’re going to need Leonard to control the game with the ball in his hands, creating for himself and everyone else. Harden was able to take this leap a few seasons back, so there’s no reason to believe that Kawhi can’t take the leap as well. And what better time to do so than in this upcoming postseason run?
Damian Lillard – Guard
Damian “Dame Time” Lillard is the most underrated superstar in the NBA. No one gets overlooked by the media and analysts quite like Dame, but he could care less. The man is as consistent as any guard in the league and can drop 50 on anybody. Lillard has a rare blend of athleticism and shooting ability. Most guards are either elite at one or the other, or maybe just average at both, but Dame is top-tier in both. His ability to blow right by you to finish at the rim, or pull up from 30 is incredible to watch. I think my favorite part about his game is the manner in which he conducts his emotions. The dude can have 10 points or 60 points, and his expression never waivers. Dame currently has his Blazers tied with the Thunder and the Rockets for the 3rd seed in an insanely talented Western Conference. Not to mention he’s putting up 26ppg. If you need a game winner, there’s no one I’d rather have to take the shot. Those moments are officially reserved for “Dame Dolla” until further notice
Steph Curry – Guard
The Chef! The greatest shooter in the history of the NBA and it’s no longer even an argument. Much like Durant, Curry finds himself here on the 2nd team simply because there are some guards ahead of him that are having seasons that you can’t ignore in Westbrook (averaging a triple-double) and Harden (scoring at-will). With that being said, you can never underestimate the abilities Curry possesses. He’s like a silent assassin who can score 60 all from behind the arc and send every opposing teams fan base into a mid-life crisis. If you saw him in a grocery store and were unfamiliar with sports in general you’d assume this average sized guy picking out a bundle of starter wood for his bonfire later was just your ordinary woodsman who makes an honest living, and not the best shooter on the planet picking up some wood to torch your local basketball team with. The guy is incredible. Oh, and he’s 3rd in the league at 28.4ppg.
Nikola Jokic – Center
LeBron James – Forward
Luka Doncic – Forward
Brad Beal – Guard
Kyrie Irving – Guard