LeBron, Durant, Kobe headline All NBA First Team

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Even before the season tipped off you had a pretty good sense that LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul would be All-NBA First Team — they are dominant players at or entering their peak.

But Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan continue to defy father time.

The two veterans round out the All NBA Team voted on by 119 sportswriters from around the league. This is the 14th time Duncan has made the All-NBA list, but the first time as a center (he was officially a forward with the league, even though he played center).

It’s a good list — we could quibble that I would have had Marc Gasol over Duncan on the first team, but Duncan had a renaissance year and is deserving of the first team. I would have had Brook Lopez on over Dwight Howard on the third team as well. Plus, this is probably the last year Stephen Curry doesn’t make the top three, but the guys on the list all had good years.

If you want to pick things apart — who gave J.J. Hickson, Nikola Pekovic, and Nikola Vucevic third team votes? If those guys are in your top 15 NBA players you’re doing it wrong. We need more transparency in this voting.

Here is the complete list of the All NBA Teams. (The teams must have two guards, two forwards and one center on it. Duncan is considered a center for this.)

FIRST TEAM (with points)

LeBron James, Miami (595)
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (555)
Tim Duncan, San Antonio (392)
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (521)
Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers (537)

SECOND TEAM (with points)

Carmelo Anthony, New York (397)
Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers (132)
Marc Gasol, Memphis (295)
Tony Parker, San Antonio (273)
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (306)

THIRD TEAM (with points)

David Lee, Golden State (79)
Paul George, Indiana (73)
Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers (203)
Dwyane Wade, Miami (145)
James Harden, Houston (253)

Other players receiving votes (with point totals):

Brook Lopez, Brooklyn, 132 (7 First Team votes); Stephen Curry, Golden State, 72; LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland, 62; Chris Bosh, Miami, 59 (4); Joakim Noah, Chicago, 56 (3); Zach Randolph, Memphis, 45; Al Horford, Atlanta, 31 (2); Paul Pierce, Boston, 24; Al Jefferson, Utah, 20 (1); Tyson Chandler, New York, 19 (1); Roy Hibbert, Indiana, 9; Luol Deng, Chicago, 8; Kevin Garnett, Boston, 8; Ty Lawson, Denver, 8; Josh Smith, Atlanta, 7; Deron Williams, Brooklyn, 6; Pau Gasol, LA Lakers, 4; Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City, 4; Omer Asik, Houston, 3; Kenneth Faried, Denver, 3; Raymond Felton, New York, 3; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland, 3; Carlos Boozer, Chicago, 2; Mike Conley, Memphis, 2; David West, Indiana, 2; Rudy Gay, Toronto, 1; J.J. Hickson, Portland, 1; Andre Iguodala, Denver, 1; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas, 1; Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota, 1; Rajon Rondo, Boston, 1; Nikola Vucevic, Orlando, 1.

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

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LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

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Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

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Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

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DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.