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

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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.

Bulls’ Kris Dunn shoves Russell Westbrook, scuffle breaks out (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook has a way of getting under an opponent’s skin.

Monday night it was the Bulls’ Kris Dunn‘s turn.

While moving over in position on the strong side, Westbrook and Dunn made contact, and after the whistle blew for a foul (with the ball handler), Westbrook made a grand gesture of pushing Dunn off him. Dunn responded with an outsized shove. And then it was on.

There’s more stuff to break down here than the Zapruder film.

• Jeremi Grant of the Thunder came in and tried to go at Dunn a little, in front of Westbrook (protect the star).

Bobby Portis tried to slide Grant out of the way, but…

Robin Lopez came in and went at Grant getting in his face, so Grant basically throws Lopez into the first row.

• Which just made Lopez even madder, leading to a meme-worthy angry face.

• Bulls’ coach Jim Boylen gets Grant in a headlock and pulls him out of the situation.

Steven Adams calmly makes sure Portis is out of the picture, then walks back over to Lopez and then Adams and Lopez get separated.

• In the end, the officials handed out for technicals: Westbrook, Dunn, Grant, and Lopez.

A few minutes later, Lopez blocked a Grant shot, decided to taunt him, and that got Lopez a second technical and he was tossed (Lopez is a veteran, he has to know the officials are going to call everything tight at that point). Watch Adams pat Lopez on the back as the Bulls’ big man makes the walk to the locker room.

James Harden scores 47, including sinking dagger into Jazz (VIDEO)

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Utah and Houston met in a battle of the disappointing early season Western teams — predicted by most to finish 2/3 in the West, they came into the night 10th and 13th — and in the tight West these kinds of games matter.

So James Harden turned it up a notch.

The reigning MVP looked every bit that guys scoring 47 points and adding six rebounds, five assists, and five steals in what was a Houston win, 102-97. It was Harden that sank the dagger into Utah.

That’s four wins in a row for Houston as they try to climb out of the hole they dug themselves early this season.

Taj Gibson helps defend drive with one shoe on, one shoe in his hand (VIDEO)

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In the first quarter Monday night, Timberwolves veteran Taj Gibson was working in the post on the Kings’ Nemanja Bjelica, Gibson got the bucket but lost his shoe.

He picked it up, ran to the other end with one shoe in hand, and then defended a Bjelica drive well enough that Karl-Anthony Towns would come over and get the block on the play.

Somehow, Tom Thibodeau is going to get credit for this new defensive style.

Thunder reportedly pick up final option year on coach Billy Donovan’s contract

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At 18-10 to start the season, the Thunder went into Monday night’s action in third place in the tight Western Conference, pulled there by the best defense in the NBA and enough offense from Russell Westbrook and Paul Gorge to get by.

That the team is doing this with a thin roster, and by putting some role players in strong positions to succeed, and by playing so cohesively has guaranteed coach Billy Donovan one more year as coach, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Donovan has done well to help the Thunder find a new, winning identity after Kevin Durant left a few years back.

Next season (2019-20) will be the final one on Donovan’s contract. Teams often extend a coach before that, feeling that a “lame duck” coach may have trouble getting some players to fall in line (or the team will struggle recruit free agents, because a good player with options doesn’t want to walk into uncertainty). It will be interesting to see how the Thunder handle that.