Friday, May 17, 2013

2012-13 All NBA Team

The All NBA Team isn't about who the most entertaining players in the league are.  It isn't about who meant more to their team, so there's no factoring "what the team did when so and so wasn't on the floor."  It's really about the guys who got the work done better than anybody else at their position this season.  So position by position, I took the guys who produced and put them in an imaginary starting lineup to make up the first team.  Certain players clearly stand out, others can be debated.  If their play didn't contribute to a winning record, they were excluded from receiving recognition.  Here are my thoughts on the 2012-2013 All NBA Team.

First Team

Guard - Chris Paul  The Los Angeles Clippers finished with a franchise best 56 wins and won their division for the first time in the team's history.  The Clippers accomplished all of this was because of the play the man known as CP3.  The job of a point guard in the traditional sense is to be in charge of executing the offensive sets, making sure his teammates are in a position to succeed.  Its only when the other guys on the floor aren't doing their part by putting the ball in the hoop, the pg should take over.  Make no mistake about it, CP3 did this better than anybody in the league.  He was clearly the difference from the Clippers being a legit contender to a lottery team. He lead the league in steals per game and assists per game (excluding Rajon Rondo who only played 38 games).

Guard - Kobe Bryant  The Los Angeles Lakers began the season with high expectations.  For several reasons, the preseason paper champions failed to live up to the hype and finished with disappointing results.  The play of Kobe Bryant however, is not one of the reasons.  This past season was arguably Bryant's most complete. The acquisition of Steve Nash was supposed to relieve Bryant of some play making responsibilities but he ended up with a career high 6 assists per game. At 34 years old, Kobe was the highest scoring guard in the league with 27.3 points per game.

Forward - Kevin Durant  The Oklahoma City Thunder's star forward was the league leader in total points scored for the fourth consecutive season (Carmelo Anthony who played 14 less games edged in per game average).  This season, Durant scored his points in a effortlessly; shooting 50% overall from the field, 42% on three-pointers, and a league leading 91% from the free throw line. Those shooting percentages are his career highs but shooting wasn't the only thing he got better at this season; he also bested his career numbers in assists, blocks, and steals which should have made him a leading candidate for most improved player.

Forward - Lebron James  There won't be enough words in this write-up to describe the year that this season's Most Valuable Player had; it was arguably one of the best ever.  Lebron James was the best player in the league this season by a long shot.  Offensively, he did absolutely anything he wanted to do. Defensively he guarded anybody that the Miami Heat needed to be stopped.  This was the season that biggest, strongest, and fastest athletic specimen in the NBA figured out the game is much easier the closer he plays to the basket; if you have the ability to get all your shots within 10 feet of the rim, there's no reason to shoot from anywhere else.  The times defenses tried to stop him from getting to the rim, he punished them by shooting a career high 41% clip from three.

Center - Tim Duncan  The demise of Tim Duncan has been greatly exaggerated .  The most fundamentally sound big man over the past two decades seems to have found the fountain of youth.  The center position in today's game has become one in which teams don't utilize much offensively, most teams just want their center to be a physical enforcer.  Duncan is the anchor in the paint defensively for the San Antonio Spurs, he finished third in the NBA with 2.7 blocks per game.  Duncan delivered for his team when they needed to that work done on the inside, he finished with almost 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.  There wasn't a big man this year that could be counted on both offensively and defensively more than Tim Duncan.

Second Team

G-Russell Westbrook  He was the NBA's most explosive pg this year and the engine that powered OKC.
G-James Harden  Showed that he's more than a decent player with a cool beard.  Old school game is legit.
F-Carmelo Anthony  NBA's leading scorer. The league is fun when the Knicks are doing well.
F-David Lee  Take a guess who lead the league in double doubles? This guy with 56 of them.
C-Dwight Howard  A down year by his own standards but still out produced mostly all of his peers.

Third Team

G-Stephen Curry  Set an NBA record for 3-pointers made in a season.  23 points, 7 dimes per game.
G-Dwyane Wade  How many wings can accept a clear secondary role and still finish with 21, 5, and 5?
F-Paul George  Introduced himself to the common fan this year, not even close reaching full potential.
F-Paul Pierce  Put in much work for in injury riddled team. Highly productive in any case.
C-Marc Gasol  The best at help-side defense. What he does best doesn't show up in the box scores.

I found the most difficulty with selecting the guards for the the third team.  This is the era of the point guard, there were so many good performances this season to choose from.  Tony Parker was having an MVP caliber season until he missed considerable time late in the year due to injury; during this time, Curry continued his stellar play and earned his place.  Also on the third team, I struggled with leaving Zach Randolph off.