Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat - Game Two

Unanimous LeBron James leads All-NBA First team


He wasn’t the MVP, but LeBron James was the only player to be unanimously selected to the All-NBA first team.

The actual MVP — Chicago’s Derrick Rose — and runner up Dwight Howard were both one vote short of being unanimous. Here are the teams.

All NBA First Team:

Forward: LeBron James, Miami
Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
Center: Dwight Howard, Orlando
Guard: Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
Guard: Derrick Rose, Chicago

All NBA Second Team:

Forward: Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers
Forward: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
Center: Amar’e Stoudemire, New York
Guard: Dwyane Wade, Miami
Guard: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City

All NBA Third Team

Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland
Forward: Zach Randolph, Memphis
Center: Al Horford, Atlanta
Guard: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio
Guard: Chris Paul, New Orleans

Rajon Rondo ends up as the guy with the most votes who didn’t make it. He actually had more points than Horford and Randolph, but by position he was behind the other guards. A fourth team of guys who just missed would have been Rondo and Paul Pierce (I’m making PP a guard, just to go in vote order), Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love at forward, Tim Duncan at center.

We can have a debate if Kobe Bryant really had a first-team kind of season, if Wade or Westbrook might not have been better, but it’s not a disaster of a choice. I’d have had Chris Paul farther up, as well, but injuries and a second half decline in the regular season hurt him. It’s good to see Randolph get voted in after the fans didn’t put him in the All-Star game.

If you go on down the list of who got votes, it again begs for transparency. We don’t know who voted for whom, but you should have to defend your choices. While the groupthink of the top three All-NBA teams ends up being defensable, there are some votes that are not.

Like three people voting Kendrick Perkins at center to an All-NBA team. Perkins played in just 29 games and has no offensive game to speak of — that is just a terrible vote. Also two people voted Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani on to All-NBA Third Team, and one person gave Eric Gordon of the Clippers a vote. So did Emeka Okafor. Someone really should explain those.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.