It's always hard to split hairs in All-NBA selections, but for a variety of reasons, the 2020-21 campaign has to be one of the most difficult seasons to nail down 15 All-NBA players in recent history.
As always, there are the traditional position mandates that continue to bely the realities of what is now an effectively positionless league. There has been a tweak, at least, arbitrary as it might be: A handful of players have been deemed All-NBA eligible at multiple positions.
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Joel Embiid, for instance, is eligible at forward despite his not showing up in a single Sixers lineup as a forward on Cleaning the Glass. This is an attempt to reward a player like Embiid, who has been one of the five best players in the league without question this season, with a first-team nod despite not having as great a season as the likely MVP Nikola Jokic, who will surely be the first-team center.
Why stop there? Personally, I believe Julius Randle had a better season than Bam Adebayo, if by a smidge, but it remains a requirement to have a center on all three All-NBA teams. So for purely positional purposes, I had to put Adebayo on my third team over Randle, who I do not believe was better than Zion Williamson or Jayson Tatum, who got my third-team forward spots.
Stupid. Get with it, NBA. Let the voters pick the 15 best players in the league in a particular season. If someone thinks Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard all deserve to be on the first team, they should be able to vote that way. having to relegate one of those guys to the second team because you can only have two guards on each team is antiquated at best and illogical at worst. It's not the way the game works anymore.
Even without the positional challenge, this was an almost impossible task this season. So many players were so great this season, and when you throw in the absences for COVID-19 and the injury bug that bit just about everyone in an expedited schedule, the final vote can be pretty torturous when you consider the contract implications these All-NBA selections can have.
That said, it has to be done. So we did it. For All-NBA, five points were awarded for a first-team vote, three points for a second-team vote and one point for a third-team vote. For All-Defense and All-Rookie, two points were awarded for each first-team vote and one point for each second-team vote. Below are our CBS Sports staff picks for the three All-NBA teams, our first- and second-team All Rookie squads and first- and second-team All-Defense. Take it easy on our mentions. (To see our predictions for the 2020-21 award winners, click here).
Stephen Curry GS PG
Luka Doncic DAL PG
Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL PF
Joel Embiid PHI C
Nikola Jokic DEN C
Damian Lillard POR PG
Chris Paul PHO PG
Kawhi Leonard LAC SF
Jimmy Butler MIA SF
Rudy Gobert UTA C
Bradley Beal WAS SG
Kyrie Irving BKN PG
LeBron James LAL SF
Julius Randle NY PF
Bam Adebayo MIA C