Antetokounmpo, Doncic, Jokic headline All-NBA Teams


Only one player was a unanimous selection to the First Team All-NBA — and it wasn’t the league MVP.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was the unanimous choice — and a good one, but him being put on the first team by all 100 voters is more about position than pure play. The Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, who was named MVP, had 12 people put him on the second team, most likely because they had the 76ers Joel Embiid — the MVP runner up — at center on their first team (and chose not to move Jokic to forward to get both Embiid and Jokic on the first team, as some voters did).

While there are always snubs, there were no shocks on this year’s ballot.

What follows is who made the All-NBA teams and their voting point totals (five points for a first-team vote, three for second, one for third). The votes were cast by a select group of 100 media members.


First Team

F. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee (500)
F. Jayson Tatum, Boston (390)
G. Luka Doncic, Dallas (476)
G. Devin Booker, Phoenix (460)
C. Nikola Jokic, Denver (476)

Second Team

F. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn (276)
F. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago (184)
G. Ja Morant, Memphis (301)
G. Stephen Curry, Golden State (274)
C. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia (414)

Third Team

F. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers (169)
F. Pascal Siakam, Toronto (63)
G. Trae Young, Atlanta (110)
G. Chris Paul, Phoenix (114)
C. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota (174)

Here are the other players who received votes.

Center: Rudy Gobert, Utah (45); Bam Adebayo, Miami (28).
Forward: Jimmy Butler, Miami (32); Jaylen Brown, Boston (3); Desmond Bane, Memphis (1); Khris Middleton, Milwaukee (1).
Guards: Donovan Mitchell, Utah (4); Mikal Bridges, Phoenix (1); Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee (1); Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn (1); Dejounte Murray, San Antonio (1); Fred VanVleet, Toronto (1).

Some thoughts on the selections:

• The NBA should have held off on this announcement. A celebration of basketball greatness rang a little hollow as news poured out of Uvalde, Texas, about an elementary school shooting that saw 18 children and one teacher murdered earlier in the day.

• Every player named to the First Team All-NBA is 27 or younger.

• The big winner is Trae Young. By making Third Team All NBA, he qualifies for the Rose Rule and his contract extension that kicks in next season jumps from $177 million to $212 million over five years.

Zach LaVine, a free agent this season, did not make an All-NBA team (he didn’t even get one vote) and is now not eligible for a super-max contract. He will have to “settle” for 5 years, $212.3 million from the Bulls or 4 years, $157.4 million from another team (and other teams think they have a chance to poach him).

As noted by ESPN’s Bobby Marks, by making All-NBA teams, both Booker and Towns are both eligible to sign four-year, $211 million super-max contract extensions this offseason. Those deals would be in addition to the two years on their current contracts and lock them in through their prime with their current teams (barring any trades).

• No members of the top seed from the East, the Miami Heat, made All-NBA. Jimmy Butler was the closest, he was the seventh forward, but he finished well behind Pascal Siakam.

• No members of the Utah Jazz making the team — no Rudy Gobert or Donovan Mitchell — will lead to cries from Salt Lake. However, in the wake of the team’s playoff performance, they will find little sympathy from fans (even though those playoff games don’t count toward the award).

• This is LeBron James’ 18th All-NBA nod, extending a record he already held.

• Doncic was named to his third All-NBA team before turning 24. Only three other players in history have done that: Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant and Max Zaslofsky.

• Voters are required to select two guards, two forwards and a center for each team (the NBA has become more flexible with the positions players can be assigned, for example, Jokic can be a center or a forward). If a player receives votes at different positions, they are tallied as one and the position most voters assign the player is where he is considered.

Dončić dodges suspension, NBA rescinds 16th technical

Dallas Mavericks v Charlotte Hornets
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This was unexpected, especially after crew chief Kevin Scott said after the game last night: “Doncic was assessed a technical foul for his use of profanity directed at the officials in protest to a no-call that was correctly judged in postgame video review.”

The NBA league office reviewed the incident (as it does with all technicals) and rescinded what would have been Luka Doncic’s 16th technical.

That 16th technical would have triggered an automatic one game suspension. With it rescinded, Dončić is clear to play Monday night when the Mavericks take on the Pacers.

Sunday night in Charlotte, Dončić was given a technical when he didn’t get a call on a leaning baseline jumper and said something to the nearby official.

This incident comes days after Dončić was fined $35,000  for making a money gesture towards a referee in frustration after a  Mavericks loss.

Through all this the Mavericks have lost four straight, 7-of-9, and have slid back to 11th in the West, outside even the play-in. Their team is disintegrating and if they don’t pick up some wins fast they have less than two weeks until they are on summer vacation.

MVP showdown off: 76ers to sit Joel Embiid due to calf tightness

Philadelphia 76ers v Phoenix Suns
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Recently Joel Embiid said,” ‘If I win MVP, good. If I don’t, it’s fine with me.” Today’s news plays right into that narrative.

Embiid has been playing through calf tightness for a few games now — he only played a half against the Bulls last Wednesday — but still putting up numbers (46 points against the Warriors, 28 and 10 against the Suns). However, there had been some concern in the organization about not pushing things and making sure Embiid is healthy for the playoffs. Which is why they will rest him on Monday night, short-circuiting an MVP-race showdown against Nikola Jokić and the Nuggets. Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the news and John Clarke of NBC Sports Philadelphia has confirmed it.

Embiid did go through part of the 76ers’ shootaround this morning. The decision was made after that point.

Undoubtedly this will spark the load management discussion around the league again, and Embiid is going to take heat for this — but this is a situation where the team’s medical staff made the call, likely over Embiid’s objection.

From the 76ers perspective what matters is having Embiid healthy during the playoffs — they are going nowhere without him — and there is no reason to take undue risks with the team all but locked into the No. 3 seed in the East.

James Harden is still expected to make his return to action Monday from a three-game absence.

But it robs fans — including those who bought tickets in Denver — of one of the great showdowns in the league, and one of the more anticipated games of the season’s final weeks. The NBA has to find a way to balance player health with having their best players on the court for the biggest games. Keep telling fans the regular season doesn’t matter and they will start treating it like that.

Joel Embiid not stressing about MVP: ‘If I win MVP, good. If I don’t, it’s fine with me.’

Philadelphia 76ers v Phoenix Suns
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Joel Embiid is the MVP betting favorite — -160 at our partner PointsBet — heading into Monday’s showdown with the reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokić (+180 at PointsBet).

Embiid campaigned for the MVP award the past couple of years but came up second to Jokić. This season, Embiid is not stressing about it. Or at least trying not to stress about it. Here is what Embiid told Shams Charania of The Athletic.

What matters — it’s just about winning, winning, winning. I’ve been focused on that. We’ve been doing that. Whatever happens, happens. If I win MVP, good. If I don’t, it’s fine with me.

Why hasn’t Embiid won the MVP? Outside of Jokić also being deserving and the complaints of Antetokounmpo and others that the criteria for the award are constantly changing (which suggests there are criteria for the award, but there are none officially), Embiid thinks it’s because he is not well-liked.

People always thought that I was crazy when I said this — I really believe that I’m not well-liked. And it’s cool with me, that’s fine. I’ll be the bad guy. I like being the a–hole anyway. I like being the underdog. So that’s fine with me. My thing is … when I leave the game, I want to make sure that they say: No one was stopping him offensively and defensively, and he was a monster.

There’s no doubt he will leave the game remembered as one of the great 76ers and a “monster” on both ends when healthy. However, resume matters with legacy and an MVP award helps with that. Just not as much as being the best player on a championship team, something more difficult to pull off because it requires a lot of help (it’s up for debate whether Embiid has the help he needs around him to win it all, and if they can stay healthy enough to make that run).

This season the MVP race is a tight three-way contest between Embiid, Jokić and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+450 at PointsBet). There are legitimate cases to be made for each member of this trio. However, with the Sixers surging (and the Nuggets stumbling a little), things may break his way this season.

Another dominant performance against Jokić with just a couple of weeks left in the season would stick in voters’ minds and help his cause.

Kyrie Irving has fan ejected during road loss to Hornets


Sunday was not a good day for the Mavericks and Kyrie Irving.

In addition to losing their second-straight game to the Hornets (and fourth straight overall) to fall out of even the play-in out West, Irving had a Hornets fan ejected from the game Sunday. Irving pointed the situation out to the referee, and soon arena security was involved and the man was escorted out.

It is unclear what the fan said to Irving, but more players in recent years have taken this step with fans they feel had crossed the line of common decency. Irving addressed the situation in his postgame press conference.

Irving and the Mavericks heard boos from their fans at home last Friday during a loss to these same Hornets, and Irving’s response that night was more defiant in tone.

“So what? Just the way I feel about it. I’ve been in New York City so I know what that’s like. You obviously want to play well, but there’s only five people on the court who can play for the Dallas Mavericks. If the fans wanna change places, then hey, be my guest. Got years of work ahead to be great enough to be on this level. But our focus isn’t necessarily on the boos, it should be on the performance.”

That performance has been lacking — the Mavericks have lost four in a row, 7-of-9, and if the postseason started today they would be fishing in Cabo. Irving hasn’t been the problem (the Mavericks are 4.5 per 100 possessions better when he is on the court), but he hasn’t been the solution, either. Irving is a free agent after this season and said he and Luka Dončić are still getting used to playing with one another.