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The Extra Pass: Which non-All-Stars will make an All-NBA team?

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All-Star selections have become the de facto measure of good seasons, even though they’re really only the measure of good half seasons and rely on a gerrymandered system that splits players by conference.

But All-NBA teams – which evaluate a full year and aren’t split by conference – are a better metric for good seasons.

In the last eight years, 10 players have missed the All-Star Game and made an All-NBA team. Let’s have a quick look back on them and then project who the most likely players are to make the snubbed-to-honored jump this season.

2013

  • Second-team center: Marc Gasol
  • All-Stars he jumped: Dwight Howard (third team), Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh

Gasol’s teammate, Zach Randolph, made the All-Star Game, and coaches were probably leery of putting two Grizzles on the team. Gasol also won Defensive Player of the Year, and as voters reflected on that award postseason in a way they didn’t have to midseason, they likely better-saw Gasol’s value.

2012

  • Third-team center: Tyson Chandler
  • All-Stars he jumped: Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert

Like Gasol in 2013, Chandler likely got a boost when voters, selecting him for Defensive Player of the Year, were forced to look more closely to that side of the ball. Plus, Carmelo Anthony took what might have been seen as the one spot reserved for a Knick.

2011

  • Third-team forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph
  • All-Stars they jumped: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Paul Pierce

Aldridge was a pretty big snub this year – even LeBron said so – so the Portland big man didn’t  have much ground to make up. If anything, Randolph’s productio nfell off after the All-Star game. But they might have been competing against only the Western Conference All-Star forwards, because the East’s group just had to be filled out with someone from that conference. In perception, Duncan got his All-Star nod based on his career accomplishments and Griffin his based on his dunking ability. Those didn’t hold up for All-NBA. The other Western Conference All-Star forward, Love, played for a team that finished 17-65. A full season of futility is much harder to overlook than a half season of struggles.

2010

  • Third-Team center: Andrew Bogut
  • All-Stars they jumped: Al Horford, Chris Kaman

Bogut was about the same player before and All-Star break, but his Bucks were not. They went 24-27 before the All-Star Game and 22-9 after, raising Bogut’s stock during the “Feat the Deer” euphoria that ended with Milwaukee finishing second in the NBA in defensive rating.

2009

  • Third-team forward: Carmelo Anthony
  • All-Stars he jumped: Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Danny Granger, Rashard Lewis, Amar’e Stoudemire, David West

Melo missed 15 games of the season’s first with an injury, and that’s likely what kept him from the All-Star Game. By the end of the year, 16 total missed games weren’t quite as significant.

2008

  • Second-team guard: Deron Williams; Third-team guards: Manu Ginobili, Tracy McGrady
  • All-Stars they jumped: Ray Allen, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Allen Iverson, Joe Johnson, Jason Kidd, Brandon Roy, Dwyane Wade

Wade got hurt, clearing All-NBA space. Otherwise, what a confusing mess. When there’s a deep group of players – see Western Conference forwards this year – it’s not that hard for a snubbed All-Star to make modest gains and pass several players.

2006

  • Third-team forward: Carmelo Anthony
  • All-Stars he jumped: Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal, Paul Piece, Rasheed Wallace

This was a lengthy and impressive list of players Melo passed. In his first elite season, it likely just took everyone a full year to really realize he was for real.

So, based on that recent history, which non All-Stars are most likely to make an All-NBA team this season?

Honorable mention: Arron Afflalo, Andrew Bogut, Mike Conley, Goran Dragic, Andre Drummond, Tim Duncan, David Lee, Nikola Pekovic, Lance Stephenson

5. Kyle Lowry

When a group other than NBA coaches, who’ve notoriously feuded with Lowry over the years, is making the selections, he should fare much better. The Raptors’ de facto designated All-Star spot went to the less-deserving DeMar DeRozan, but that type of thinking won’t matter as much at the end of the year.

4. Russell Westbrook

If all goes well, Westbrook will play 52 games this season. In 2007, Wade made the All-NBA third team while playing just 51 games. It will require perfect health once he returns and few signs of rust, but Westbrook has a shot.

3. DeAndre Jordan

Jordan is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and as you can see above, those usually fare well. Only three centers made the All-Star Game this year: Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert and Joakim Noah. Jordan would have had a strong case over Noah if they were in the same conference. In April, that will no longer matter.

2. DeMarcus Cousins

As noted with Jordan, third-team center is primed for the taking. Cousins got squeezed out in the forward-deep West, but if he keeps producing like this – proving his value over a full season like Melo did in 2006 – he’ll be hard to overlook.

1. Anthony Davis

Davis should fall off this list when Adam Silver names him Kobe Bryant’s injury replacement. But in case that doesn’t happen, Davis has already begun to build a strong All-NBA case. Plus, he’s just getting better as the year progresses, so he’ll likely look even more impressive by season’s end. He could make an All-NBA team at forward or center, further boosting his chances.

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Suns 102, Pacers 94: Snub Goran Dragic will you? He came out pushing the tempo (the game had 100 possessions) and ran past the Pacers defense to score 28 points (on 21 shots) plus dish out 7 assists. Phoenix went on a 17-5 run in the first half and in the second quarter led by as many as 19. The way the Suns get out and run is a matchup problem for the Pacers, but they started to figure it out. The Pacers cranked up the defensive pressure in the third quarter (they switched Paul George onto Dragic) and won the frame 25-11 and it looked like they would come back, but every time Indiana made a run Phoenix answered. The Morris Brothers combined for 31 points. Roy Hibbert had 26 points to lead the Pacers.

Knicks 117, Cavaliers 86: Cleveland would trade Anthony Bennett straight up for Tim Hardaway Jr. right now. As for the game, the Knicks have won four straight games now, and while only one of those was against a team that is not a tire fire (Charlotte) it doesn’t matter. The Knicks are playing the small-ball lineup everyone called for (with Carmelo Anthony at the four) and it works. Like it did last year. Thursday night the Knicks went on an 18-2 run just a couple minutes into the first quarter and the game was over at that point, basically. Carmelo Anthony had 18 of his 29 in that first quarter and he got to sit down and play cheerleader for the fourth. Kyrie Irving had 24 for the Cavaliers and didn’t get much help (Dion Waiters had 21 but 16 came in the fourth when the game was all but over).

Warriors 111, Clippers 92: This was the third blowout game of the day. Golden State went on a 13-2 run in the first quarter, started to really pull away in the second and ran away with it. Stephen Curry had 12 in the first quarter, David Lee had 10 and both ended the game with 22. The Clippers looked like a team on the second night of a back-to-back, ninth game in 14 days with eight of those games on the road. They looked tired. Blake Griffin had 27 and was 7-of-12 from the perimeter (if you say all he can do is dunk you simply don’t watch him play) but even he looked flat.

LeBron James leads Cavaliers back to Finals doing it his way

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LeBron James is the first NBA star of the social media age, and with that has come a volume of criticism that the greats before him — Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan — never had to deal with.

Even these playoffs, there have been chattering voices knocking LeBron for how he worked more to set up teammates — particularly Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love — more than seeking out his own shot. Some people have always wanted him to be more Jordan, when he was always more Magic. Or Oscar Robertson.

And this playoff he knew that he could carry his Cavaliers to the NBA Finals through a diluted East, but if he wanted a ring he was going to need those other players to be confident, ready, and believing in the team.

You could see that all come together for LeBron James in Game 6. He attacked early and set a tone, then got everyone involved on his way to 33 points and 11 assists in what became a 113-87 win sending Cleveland back to the NBA Finals.

“I just had to bring my game,” James said in his on-court postgame interview on ESPN. “I had to bring my game, I had to be in attack mode from the beginning, trust my shot, and once my shot start going I can get my teammates involved and they was able to carry me down the stretch.”

LeBron James was getting to the rim with those attacks, check out his shot chart:

LeBron shot chart

LeBron also keyed the fourth-quarter 22-7 run that put away the game.

“There is only one LeBron James, and he makes a difference on any team he plays on, and he’s proven that,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said postgame. “It’s six Finals (in a row for LeBron), to compare him to our team — and I love our players, I wouldn’t trade any of our players — but you put him on any team and he’s a difference maker.”

LeBron’s critics will not be silenced. The man has made six straight finals, a feat not accomplished by anyone since a few legendary Celtics of the 1950s-60s (Bill Russell’s teams). It speaks to LeBron’s focus, skill, durability, and ability to lead teams.

Critics will point to LeBron being 2-4 in the Finals. That misses the point — making it to six straight is an amazing accomplishment, and LeBron did it his way. Not trying to be MJ or Magic or Oscar, just being LeBron James.

We should savor watching this guy play while we still can.

James scores 33, Cavaliers reach second straight NBA Finals

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TORONTO — LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their second straight NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night.

It’s the third finals appearance in team history for the Cavaliers. Cleveland lost to Golden State in six games last year and got swept by San Antonio in 2007.

For James, it’s his sixth straight trip to the finals, including four with Miami. He broke the 30-point barrier for the first time this postseason and finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

“I had to bring my game,” he said. “I had to be in attack mode from the beginning.”

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith had 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series on Thursday.

Cleveland would open at home against the Thunder but would be on the road against the 73-win Warriors, who trail 3-2 against Oklahoma City heading into Saturday’s Game 6.

The Cavs will be seeking to end Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought, the longest by any city with at least three professional teams. No Cleveland team has won it all since the Browns blanked Baltimore 27-0 to win the NFL championship in 1964.

Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 20 as the deepest playoff run in Raptors team history ended, much to the disappointment of a sellout crowd of 20,605 dressed in red and white T-shirts that formed a maple leaf pattern on either side of the court. Fans stood and cheered “Let’s go, Raptors! Let’s go, Raptors!” throughout most of the final three minutes.

Toronto prolonged the series with back-to-back home wins in Games 3 and 4 but never mounted much of a challenge to the conference champions in Game 6, falling behind by 21 in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers came in 0-4 at Air Canada Centre counting the regular season and playoffs, but looked much more like the team that handed the Raptors a trio of lopsided losses in Cleveland this series.

The Raptors trailed 88-78 on a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavs a 102-81 lead with about 6 minutes left.

James scored 14 in the first and five of Cleveland’s nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led 31-25 after one.

After video review, the officials waved off a basket by Biyombo with 3:18 left in the period and gave him a flagrant foul for knocking down Love.

Tempers flared again early in the second when Richard Jefferson reacted angrily to catching an elbow from Jonas Valanciunas as the two battled for a rebound. Patrick Patterson came over and shoved Jefferson out of the way. Both Patterson and Jefferson were given technical fouls.

Cleveland made five more 3-pointers in the second and outscored Toronto 9-3 over the final 71 seconds to lead 55-41 at halftime. The Cavaliers made 10 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half, while Toronto was 2 of 12.

The Cavs led 78-57 after a 3 by Love at 3:53 of the third but Lowry scored 15 points as Toronto closed the quarter with a 17-8 run, cutting it to 86-74.

TIP INS

Cavaliers: Shot 17 for 31 from 3-point range. … Outscored Toronto 17-5 in fast break points.

Raptors: Finished their playoff run by playing every other day from April 29 onward, a 15-game run that started with Game 6 of the first round against Indiana.

Reports: P.J. Carlesimo to join Sixers staff as Brett Brown’s lead assistant

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 02:  Head coach P.J. Carlesimo of the Brooklyn Nets watches as his team take on the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on May 2, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Nets defeated the Bulls 95-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last season, when new president Jerry Colangelo started shaking things up in Philadelphia, he brought in Mike D’Antoni to be a lead assistant next to Brett Brown. This led to all kinds of speculation around the league that the Colangelos were trying to bring back the old Suns brain trust (especially when Jerry hired his son Bryan to be GM).

However, D’Antoni jumped ship to be the head coach of the Houston Rockets.

Enter, P.J. Carlesimo.

Carlesimo is a good fit, but that’s not going to quell the rumors that the Colangelos are not comfortable with Brown (despite giving him a contract extension). The Sixers need to give Brown a legitimate shot — he’s been like a contestant on Chopped the past few seasons, given a ridiculous basket of ingredients and told to turn Mango, octopus and graham crackers into a four-star meal. He’s gotten them to play defense (at times) and started to build a culture. He has earned the chance to show what he can do with a better lineup.

Which is what the Sixers will have next season.

Nuggets’ Jusuf Nurkic likes idea of two-bigs lineup with Nikola Jokic

DENVER, CO - APRIL 5:  Jusuf Nurkic #23 of the Denver Nuggets controls the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Pepsi Center on April 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Thunder defeated the Nuggets 124-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Late last season, Nuggets coach Mike Malone tried something out of the box the way the NBA is trending — playing two young bigs together. Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic, the latter of whom finished in third in the Rookie of the Year voting. Small ball may be in vogue, but going big has worked pretty well these playoffs for Oklahoma City with Steven Adams and Enes Kanter (and Serge Ibaka).

It didn’t work all that well for Denver — in just 92 minutes together the Nuggets were outscored by 7.1 points per 100 possessions, mostly because the offense was terrible.

But Nurkic wants to try it again next season, he told the Nuggets’ official Web site.

“I’m happy about the big lineup [with Nikola]. “Basketball has kind of changed. The NBA has gone smaller because of [the] Golden State [Warriors]. In the [Western Conference] semi-finals, look at [Oklahoma City’s Steven] Adams, [Enes] Kanter, and [Serge] Ibaka. They played all those guys and they see the difference. Me and Nikola have great communication because we played in the same league, we played against each other.”

He’s referring to their time in the Serbian league where the two played before going to the NBA.

While it could only be used situationally, expect Malone to experiment with this lineup more. There are some serious defensive questions (neither is exactly fleet of foot), and there could be spacing issues. But if the league moves one way, the smart teams and coaches think about counters.