Andre Iguodala complains of politics in All-Defensive team choices, but Larry Sanders should have the biggest gripe

23 Comments

Andre Iguodala didn’t make the NBA’s All-Defensive first or second team, and shortly after voting was released, he tweeted:

https://twitter.com/andre/status/334123189863079937

It’s easy to see why Iguodala would expect to make an All-Defensive team. Iguodala finished ahead of one first-team guard (Chris Paul) and both second-team guards (Avery Bradley and Mike Conley) in Defensive Player of the Year voting, but coaches voted on All-Defensive teams and the media chose Defensive Player of the Year.

Did the league’s coaches conspire against Iguodala? Potentially. I wouldn’t expect coaches with much more important responsibilities to take these selections seriously, and I can easily see them trading favors with their votes.

But it seems like the real political slight came form the NBA.

Iguodala received more voting points (16) than second-team center Marc Gasol (12). As a matter of fact, so did Larry Sanders (16) and Thabo Sefolosha (15).

As guards, Iguodala and Sefolosha were stuck behind second-team guards Bradley (25) and Conley (19). Likewise, Paul George (27) is locked into one forward spot, so that prevented Iguodala from sliding in there.

But with center and the remaining forward spot, the NBA had wiggle room on the second team.

We know the NBA classified Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah as centers, because they’re listed that way on the first team. We also know Gasol is a center, because that’s his position on the second team. Two other players who received votes, Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert, are also certainly centers. Those five combined to receive 27/30 first-team votes and 21/30 second-team votes.

The only other realistic possibilities to get center votes are first-team forward Serge Ibaka, second-team forward Tim Duncan and Sanders.

Why is Sanders a center? Well, the Bucks list him as a center and a center only. Nobody else in Milwaukee’s six-most used players was a center, so it’s not like Sanders had to play out of position, either. He’s a center.

Duncan and Ibaka defend both forwards and center, so they could have slid into either position. Duncan’s flexibility gave the NBA multiple options for second-team center and the forward spot next to George.

Option 1 (what the league did):

  • F: Duncan (20)
  • C: Gasol (12)

Option 2 (what the league should have done):

  • F: Duncan (20)
  • C: Sanders (16)

Option 3: (what the league could have done):

  • F: Iguodala (16)
  • C: Duncan (20)

Options 2 and 3 were both better than Option 1, so Iguodala seems correct that he could have fared better if politics didn’t work against him. But if politics – or any other should-have-been-irrelevant factors – disrupted voting, Sanders got the biggest slight.

Really, if the NBA wanted to be completely fair, a tiebreaker would have been used to separate Chandler and Noah, who tied for first-team center. Rather than naming a six-man first team and a five-man second team, the NBA could have made one the second-team center and honored 10 players as designed. In that case, Gasol, Sanders and Iguodala would all have missed the second team.

Instead, the NBA honored an extra player. It just chose the wrong one.

Chris Paul posts emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant were tight.

The shocking death of Kobe Bryant — along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash — hit CP3 hard and the point guard missed his first game of the year Monday, sitting out as he tried to come to grips with it all. Kobe and Paul won Gold Medals together, their kids were friends, and they competed fiercely against each other on the court. 

Tuesday night, Paul posted this personal tribute to Kobe.

View this post on Instagram

I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully process it. My parents have always said everything happens for a reason and its in God’s plan. But this one is different. Broken fingers, torn Achilles, it didn’t matter. You overcame it all!! You were DIFFERENT! Sometimes we competed so hard against each other that you could never tell how I was always watching YOU!! I needed to see how much better I needed to get and how much harder I needed to work! The love you had for the game was nowhere near the love you had for YOUR girls!! All 5 of them!! And Gigi, who we had already prearranged her marriage with lil Chris, is as beautiful and feisty as she could ever be!!! As I’ve watched you in retirement, as happy as you’ve ever been, I’ve sat back and prayed and hoped that my baby girl will look at me the way Gigi looks at you!!! I Love You and will miss you with all my heart my brother!!! All my love to Vanessa and all the families during this time 🙏🏾 #Mamba4Life #Mambacita

A post shared by Chris Paul (@cp3) on

Like Paul, a lot of us are struggling to process it all.

Watch Jerry West’s emotional memories of trading for/his relationship with Kobe Bryant

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jerry West has never understood why people thought he was brilliant for recognizing the talent of a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant coming out of high school. To him it was obvious.

If it had been obvious (and if that era had not frowned on the development that came with drafting high school players), Kobe wouldn’t have been a Laker, and NBA history might be very different.

For West, Kobe was not just another player, he was like a son. West talked about it on the well done TNT special commemorating Kobe Tuesday night.

What those neatly packaged TNT clip does not show is just how difficult and emotional it was for West to talk about Kobe.

West has had a life of incredible highs, but also more lows and pain than many — abused by his father and battling depression his entire life — and this is another emotional tax on the NBA legend.

Joel Embiid returns to Philadelphia rotation after nine-game absence

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

When you saw the image of Joel Embiid‘s dislocated ring finger facing a direction no finger should face, you knew he was going to miss some time (even though he had it taped up and returned to that game). Embiid had surgery to repair a torn radial collateral ligament on the ring finger of his left hand. Ultimately he missed nine games while he recovered.

Tuesday night against the Warriors, Embiid will be back.

He will have a soft wrap on his left hand that has been cleared by the league.

Philadelphia went 6-3 while Embiid was out.

Ben Simmons stepped up — in his last five games (before Tuesday) he averaged 24 points a game on 70.6 percent shooting, plus 10 rebounds and 8.6 assists a game. Without Embiid in the paint or taking up touches, Simmons took over the offense and looked much more comfortable in his role.

However, the Sixers’ offensive rating in those nine Embiid-less games was 104.9, 29th in the NBA (even in the last five it was 103.2, still 29th in the league). Simmons may have been playing better but the offense was not.

When Simmons and Embiid share the court this season, their offensive rating is 106.7 — not great, but better than without Embiid playing.

Victor Oladipo returns to Pacers Wednesday, likely off bench with minutes limit

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Indiana has gone 30-17 this season and sits as the five seed in the Eastern Conference — and Wednesday they get their best player back.

Victor Oladipo — the former Most Improved Player and All-NBA team member who has been out for most of a year with a right quad tendon rupture — practiced with the Pacers on Tuesday and, as expected, will make his return to the court Wednesday night against the Bulls.

Coach Nate McMillan would not say how he planned to use Oladipo but, considering the minutes limit, off the bench seems the most likely move. McMillan said the team would revisit the minutes and role after the All-Star break.

While Milwaukee has separated itself atop the East, the next five teams — Miami, Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Indiana — are all within 2.5 games of each other and could end up in any order. If Oladipo can return close to the All-NBA form he was in prior to his injury, the Pacers become a big threat to break out of that group. If nothing else, they become a much tougher out in the postseason.