2016-17 All-NBA Picks: MVP contenders squeeze Curry, Durant off first team

If the 2016-17 NBA MVP vote is excruciatingly close, the All-NBA Team selections are just as brutal. This season we saw some of the most amazing performances in NBA history, almost nightly. Fifty-point triple-doubles, legendary offenses, epic battles, we’ve seen it all. 

The All-NBA teams are more important than All-Star nods. They’re better reflections of how great a player’s season was, not only because they reflect the entire season, but because they aren’t influenced by a flawed fan vote. Teams are comprised of two guards, two forwards and a center. Here’s what our team came up with for the top 15 best this season by those positions. 

All-NBA First Team

ANALYSIS: Four of these are no-brainers. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are unquestionably the leaders for MVP this season. No knock on two-time MVP Stephen Curry, but that’s the price for adding Kevin Durant. Durant’s injury saved the committee from a terrible choice of having to choose between James, Leonard and Durant, and that could have been brutal. 

Meanwhile, the center spot is fascinating. Anthony Davis played about 65 percent of his total minutes at center this season, and was brilliant. Most notably, his two most-played lineups both featured him at center. So there’s a case to be made there, and more than one of our panelists made such a case. On the other hand, Rudy Gobert appears at the top of this list, as he has emerged as a top-flight scoring option for the top-five-in-the West Jazz, while also making arguably the strongest case for Defensive Player of the Year. 

All-NBA Second Team

ANALYSIS: If Davis didn’t land on the first ballot, he landed on the second, and same goes for Gobert. They were decidedly the best two centers in the league ... if you count Davis as a center. It’s notable that the Pelicans have kept multiple centers on roster specifically because of the toll the position takes on Davis, and that he won’t be playing center full-time any longer with DeMarcus Cousins on board.

As for the rest of the second team, it’s Curry, K.D. and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who put together a season for the Bucks that in most normal years might have landed him top four in MVP voting. The kid is still crazy young and continues to add to his game, becoming a true superstar. The only discrepancy outside the center spot comes from Matt Moore’s decision to place John Wall over Isaiah Thomas in the second-team guard spot, based off his assertion that defense should matter more in these All-NBA selections. 

Durant missed more than a month, but when healthy, he was an MVP candidate in his own right, the best player on the league’s best team. Durant managed to maintain otherworldly efficiency while taking over key production roles for the incredibly stacked Warriors. He balanced never sacrificing with adapting to Golden State’s play, and when he went down, Curry earned his spot here with his usual insane shooting. 


ANALYSIS: The third team is always where things get tougher, and it shows. Isaiah Thomas, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul and DeMar DeRozan all received guard votes. Thomas was many people’s fifth-place MVP selection as the season drew to a close, so to see him third team shows how great this year’s competition has been. Meanwhile, Paul missed several weeks of action, but when he was with the Clippers, he was simply phenomenal, and remains the best true pure point guard in the league.

DeRozan’s ability to carry Toronto should also not pass without notice, and Lillard helped Jusuf Nurkic carry the Blazers to the playoffs, saving their season.

Jimmy Butler got one of the forward spots unanimously, and his season with the Bulls was covered with the muck of the team’s dysfunction. Butler was quite simply brilliant, putting up wing scoring numbers comparable to Kawhi Leonard, with comparable defense as well. The Paul George versus Gordon Hayward debate is fierce and indecipherable. Both were tremendous, with George’s lows lower than Hayward’s, but his heroic highs higher as well.

The center spot gets split between the Heat’s double-double machine Hassan Whiteside, the Grizzlies’ standard-bearer do-it-all efficiency machine Marc Gasol and a wild-card vote for the Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns. Without the votes for Gasol, the Grizzlies would be the only Western Conference playoff team without an All-NBA selection.

So what did we get right? Wrong? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter. 

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