PBT Awards: All-Defensive team

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Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

First Team

  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second Team

  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

There are some quality defenders left off this list, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the top of it. The first group is one that could play a Warriors-style switching defense. The second team would block a lot of shots.

Brett Pollakoff

First team

  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second Team

  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • G: Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • F: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Draymond Green got my Defensive Player of the Year vote, but that was for his overall impact on a Warriors team that finished the year ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency. Ask any player in the league if they’d rather be guarded by Green or Anthony Davis, and they’ll tell you Green, almost unanimously, which is why Davis gets the first-team spot.

Sean Highkin

First team

  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second team

  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Leonard got my hypothetical Defensive Player of the Year vote, and Bogut and Green are the inside/outside anchors of the league’s best defense. Wall’s quickness and CP3’s savvy make them two of the best defensive guards in the game.

Butler kept his effectiveness on the defensive end despite taking on a larger offensive role with the Bulls. Allen and Duncan had typical seasons for them. Davis put his defensive tools together this year to become a dominant player at that end. Gobert is an absolute demon and the best rim protector in the league already, in his second season.

Dan Feldman

First team

  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Second team

  • G: Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

The only tough spot to fill was Davis as the final forward. He’s a good, but overrated, defender. He gets too much credit for what he’s capable of doing rather than what he actually does. But he made more of a defensive impact than Serge Ibaka and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who are better defenders but played less.

Because of positional requirements, some better defenders than players listed – including Nerlens Noel and Marc Gasol – didn’t make the cut. I couldn’t convince myself to count Noel as a forward, but if I had, I would have gone back and forth between him and Davis. I’d lean Davis, though.

Chris Paul on 2020 Olympics: My wife wants to go to Tokyo

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul feels great starring for the Thunder.

So great, he might even take on extra workload.

Paul – who helped Team USA win gold medals in 2008 and 2012 but didn’t compete in 2016 – said he’s “very serious” about playing the 2020 Olympics. Paul:

I’m excited about the opportunity. My wife is sort of calling the shots on this one. She said she wants to go to Tokyo.

I’ve been blessed and fortunate to play in 2008. I had no kids then. In 2012, my wife couldn’t come, because, four days after the gold medal game, she had my daughter.

We often hear about players missing international tournaments due to personal reasons. But that can go both ways. Paul might compete due to personal reasons.

Paul faces steep and deep competition for making the team at point guard: Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Mike Conley, Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White. Trae Young didn’t even make the list of finalists.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said players who’ve previously represented the U.S. will get favorable consideration. So, that’ll help Paul.

If he plays, Paul – who turns 35 in May – would be Team USA’s third-oldest Olympian:

Chris Paul

Age for Team USA’s first game or, in 2020, first game of the tournament

Did John Beilein’s methods lead to Dylan Windler’s season-ending injury?

Former Cavaliers coach John Beilein and Dylan Windler
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John Beilein gave the Cavaliers problems mentally.

Did he also give them problems physically – especially Dylan Windler, who’s missing his entire rookie year?

Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

Warning signs for Beilein could be traced to the Cavs’ Summer League schedule, when the rookie coach ran a collection of (mostly) G Leaguers and non-roster invites through extended practices, multiple times a day. This is precisely what Beilein would have done at Michigan, especially with an entirely new batch of players, this early in a season calendar. But players not only complained about the work, they also were drilled in games by opponents who were clearly well-rested. And this was in Summer League.

There was at least one player, though, involved in those early summer workouts under Beilein who was expecting to make a major contribution to the Cavs this season. Rookie Dylan Windler, a late first rounder, was supposed to compete with Cedi Osman for minutes on the wing. But he never played a game this season because of a stress injury in his left leg — which could be traced back at least in part to being overworked during the summer.

Would Windler have missed the season under a different coach? It’s impossible to say. Counterfactuals are complex.

But there was legitimate reason to be concerned with Beilein’s approach. Teams have learned the importance of rest. Fatigued players are more susceptible to injury.

Beilein’s longest college season was 41 games. He coached 54 games in Cleveland – and left with much of the season remaining.

Handling the grind of the NBA season was always going to be an adjustment for the long-time college coach. It probably got understated amid concern about him relating interpersonally to his players.

The Cavaliers needed practice time. They needed work to develop. That’s clearly what Beilein prioritized.

But they also needed to limit the physical toll, and it’s reasonable to question whether Beilein did enough there. Even if he was learning that the NBA is more marathon than sprint, the several months Beilein coaches the Cavs were enough to cause issues.

Bucks’ minor-league coach suspended two games for rant (video)

Bucks minor-league coach Chase Buford
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Chase Buford, who coaches the Bucks’ minor-league affiliate, went on an epic rant after the Wisconsin Herd’s latest loss. He singled out referee Matt Rafferty as a “f—ing clown” and said the officials were “bad and biased and unfair and illegal and cheating.”

Ryan Rodig of WFRV-TV:

G League release:

Wisconsin Herd head coach Chase Buford has been suspended for two games without pay for a direct and extended public attack on the integrity and credibility of the game officials.

I can’t recall an NBA coach ever getting suspended for something he said during a press conference.

I also can’t recall an NBA coach ever saying something so inflammatory during a press conference.

In 2005, then-NBA commissioner David Stern threatened to ban Jeff Van Gundy from the NBA after the then-Rockets coach criticized officiating. That incident still led to just a $100,000 fine. Twice as large as any previous fine for a coach. But still just a fine, nonetheless.

Watch entire Kobe Bryant memorial service (video)

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The public memorial for Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant featured several unforgettable moments, including:

But I can’t overstate how well done the entire event was, how heartfelt the speakers and performers were. If you missed it yesterday and are in the right headspace, it’s worth watching to get a more complete understanding of Kobe and Gianna.