Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesEach year, the NBA names 15 players to its three all-NBA teams. With half a dozen games left, Ill indicate whom I would pick. I know that people will disagree with some of my picks. That fine. I will not spend much time discussing the no-brainers. Ill focus on the close calls. But first, a couple of preliminary explanations:No David Lee: In terms of his individual statistics, David Lee belongs somewhere on the three all-NBA teams. Just last night he had an incredible line of 37 points, 20 rebounds, and 10Reebok New York Giants #27 Brandon Jacobs Realtree camo Jersey
assists! In a losing effort. To the Golden State Warriors. The point is, it is extremely difficult to evaluate a player production on losing teams playing meaningless games. Would Lee average 20.3 points and 11.3 rebounds on the Cavaliers or the Lakers? Not a chance. Hed play, of course, and no doubt be a valued contributor, but it impossible to tell at what level. My all-NBA teams will strongly reflect the league best and winningest teamsthey will consist in the players who did the most to make those teams among the best and the winningest. No one makes my list whose team isn currently projecting to a minimum of 45 wins. Sorry David.No Denver Nuggets: But there are a few teams who make that mark who aren represented, namely Denver, Portland, and Milwaukee.People will scream about Carmelo. Well, sorry, but Melo is only second on his team in overall production, in terms of season totals (he behind the steady Nene). He missed 13 games, yet Denver has managed to cruise along without him. In fact, Denver has managed to cruise along in spite of Melo 13 missed games, Chauncey 9 missed games, Kenyon Martin 21 missed games (and counting), J.R. Smith 7 missed games, and Ty Lawson 17 missed games. It a remarkable testimony to George Karl coaching skills, as well as to Nene and Chris Anderson, whove basically been the steady reliable guys.But the result is that Denver, who project to 53 wins and the 7th best record in the NBA, do not have one guy who has the overall numbers (season totals, not averages) to justify, in my mind, a spot on one of the all-NBA teams. Similar factors apply to Portland. Milwaukee just barely makes the cutoff of the best teams, in any case, and they have been a very balanced team rather than a team led by one standout player.OK, then why does Pau Gasol make your list, who has missed 17 games? The Lakers have won more than Denver, and Gasol contribution has been significant enough to warrant his inclusion.How can you have Tim Duncan as a center? Because he plays center. In fact, San Antonio has no other centers on their roster. They persist for some reason in listing McDyess as their center and Duncan as their power forward, but Duncan jumps center at the beginnings of Reebok New York Jets #6 Mark Sanchez Realtree camo Jersey
games, he defends the other team center, and he is defended by the other team center. A rose by any other name is still a rose.I have allowed myself some flexibility in positions, with the focus on choosing the best five players for 1st team, the next best five for 2nd team, etc. Josh Smith plays the four for Atlanta, but I think we can all agree that he can play the three without any difficulty, so if I can make a better all-NBA second team with Smith at the three, that where Ill put him.One last note: I do not necessarily consider that the players listed below are the best players at their positions. I believe they are the players who have earned their spots on the 2010 all-NBA teams based on their contributions to their teams success. Thus, I believe that Brandon Roy is a better player than Joe Johnson, but I have Johnson at 3rd team all-NBA because Roy has missed 15 games and because the Hawks have been better than the Trailblazers. OK, so here are the teams:1st TeamF: LeBron JamesF: Kevin DurantC: Dwight HowardSG: Kobe BryantPG: Steve Nash*2nd TeamSF: Josh Smith*PF: Dirk NowitzkiC: Pau Gasol*SG: Dwyane WadePG: Deron Williams*3rd TeamSF: Lamar Odom*PF: Carlos BoozerC: Tim DuncanSG: Joe Johnson*PG: Rajon Rondo* The asterisks indicate the choices where I expect some contention. I have already discussed Joe Johnson and Josh Smith (also Tim Duncan at center). Ill talk about the other controversial choices.I assume that for almost everyone, four players are a lock for 1st team (James, Durant, Howard, and Bryant). I don care that James and Durant both play the three. A team with Howard, James, and Durant on its front line would have no rebounding problem, nor any problem defending the other team four. Im betting that people will not like the choice of Nash on 1st team. Let me say, first of all, that for me Nash is barely ahead of Wade, Deron Williams, and Rondo, and that the last half-dozen games could scramble the places of those four entirely. Is Wade the second best guard in the NBA? Certainly, but I feel that, as of right now, Nash has earned the 1st team spot, by a slight margin.For now, the fact is that the Suns are tied with Dallas for 2nd best record in the tough Western Conference, they project to win 54 games, they do it mostly with offense, and like it or not, Steve Nash (not Amare Stoudemire) is the key to their offense. Nash is one of the most efficient and productive offensive players in the NBA, and throwaway players from other teams (Frye, Dudley, even Grant Hill) come to Phoenix and suddenly look like top-notch offensive players, because of Nash.If Amare ever does finally go somewhere else, I think we will see a different player without Nash to get him the ball in those pick-and-rolls. Does Nash suck on defense? Pretty much, but the Suns are able to cover enough for his weaknesses that they still average 4.7 points per game more than their opponents. Should Nash have won back-to-back MVP awards? No, but we can keep punishing him for that. He is a great offensive player. Im also guessing that some folks in Laker nation will actually object to Gasol being 2nd team, and Odom being 3rd team (and Im Reebok Oakland Raiders #21 Nnamdi Asomugha Realtree camo Jersey
aware Odom mostly plays the four, but it a given that he can play the three equally well). All I can say is that without their production, L.A. would not have the second best record in the league. Is Odom better than Carmelo? No, but he's done as much to maintain L.A. at the top as Carmelo has done to maintain Denver near the top, but not quite. I guess some folks will object to Rondo, but again, without Rondo, there no way the Celtics would be where they are. That about it. Let the carping begin! Release the Kracken!