The NBA announced its all-pro teams today, and a vast majority of the selections were appropriate. It’s hard to argue with a first team of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. Andrew Bynum and Tony Parker were members of the second team that came closest to statistically edging out Howard and Paul, respectvely, but were not quite up to the task this season, though Bynum had more win shares than Howard.
Since the NBA is an entertainment and market driven league, they would never have left Bryant off the first team in favor of Kevin Love, but a case could be made for the Minnesota TimberWolves’ standout forward. Love averaged just 1.9 fewer points, had a higher field goal percentage, far more rebounds and had a whopping 10-6.2 edge in win shares. There would have been an enormous uproar if Love made it over Bryant, but it makes a lot of sense if you look at the numbers.
Joining Love, Bynum and Parker on the second team are Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook. Both players had sensational seasons and Westbrook barely edged out Dwyane Wade statistically and in the ballot box (Westbrook made the second team by four points). Wade is joined on the third team by Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo.
The five players who got the most votes but were left off the team featured (in order) LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Derrick Rose, Josh Smith and Paul Pierce. My friend Josh from Memphis, and a Grizzlies season ticket holder, made his case for Gasol over Chandler and I initially agreed with him. Then I checked the stats.
Though Gasol had the better per game average in points, assists and blocks, Chandler had the highest field goal percentage in the league (besting Gasol by nearly 20 percent), beat Gasol in win shares 9.5-8.2 and was the best defensive player in the league. Gasol deserved more votes than Aldridge, but not more than Chandler. A case could be made for Pierce over Anthony, but I’ll let New York and Boston fans fight that one out themselves. Feel free to comment!