Published February 26, 2022
WHO COULD MAKE ALL-NBA?
When’s the last time the NBA felt this open?
The league’s balance right now is amazing. So many teams serve as contenders for a deep playoff run or even championship, and that’s because the majority of them have some sort of elite talent to push them to that level.
We’re past the stages of there being a clear-cut, far-away best player per position, with the MVP race shifting on a daily basis and so many players having unexpected surges in performance.
The All-NBA honors have never been lenient ones, which means some truly great players are going to be left out this year. This post aims to see which fifteen could realistically get it based on their performance thus far; and perhaps who may narrowly miss out.
G – guard position (two per team)
F – forward position (two per team)
C – center position (one per team)
p – points
r – rebounds
a – assists
s – steals
b – blocks
FG% – field goal percentage
TS% – true shooting percentage (advanced measure of shooting efficiency that accounts for all types of goals: two-pointers, three-pointers, and free throws)
CURRENT ALL-1ST TEAM
Stephen Curry, golden state warriors (G)
Notable Stats: 25.7p / 5.3r / 6.5a on 59 TS%, Current Record: 43-17
Amidst what could be considered a “down year” for him, The Chef manages to remain among the best guards. His off-ball movement and three-point shooting are forever one-of-a-kind, making him a lethal weapon that happens to fuel one of the best teams right now. A rocky shooting streak throughout December and January made his case a bit muddy for a period of time, but he’s comfortably in form again as of late.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (G)
Notable Stats: 27.4p / 9.1r / 9a on 55 TS%, Current Record: 35-25
Luka’s case for being the best point guard in the league is better than most realize. He has been averaging a 35-point triple-double over the month of February, and if not for a streaky start to the year he would find himself in the MVP race. He’s already made the First Team twice at the age of twenty-two, and he clearly has no intention of stopping.
Nikola Jokic, denver nuggets (C)
Notable Stats: 26p / 13.8r / 7.9a on 65 TS%, Current Record: 34-25
The reigning MVP is more than deserving of a repeat right now. His court vision, combined with a stellar scoring ability and defensive presence make him an all-in-one talent. He’s proving the worth big men can still have in the NBA, and these accomplishments only so slightly earn him this spot in a tight race with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.
LEBRON JAMES, los angeles lakers (F)
Notable Stats: 28.9p / 8.0r / 6.4a on 61 TS%, Current Record: 27-32
The Lakers have been pathetic this year, but LeBron’s play remains strong as always. He’s one of the most efficient players in the league, bringing a much-needed spark to a squad that would be directionless without him. Given that Anthony Davis is going to be out for what may be the remainder of the year, LeBron will have to continue playing at a high level that will either make or break his case.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, milwaukee bucks (F)
Notable Stats: 29.4p / 11.2r / 6a on 63 TS%, Current Record: 36-24
Giannis, in my eyes, is the best player in the NBA right now. The reigning Finals MVP is unstoppable both offensively and defensively when locked in, being an absolute menace with his strength and consistently improving on his few weaknesses. Not many players in NBA history have obtained “Most Valuable Player” and “Defensive Player of the Year” honors in one season, but Giannis is a contender for both.
CURRENT ALL-2nd TEAM
JA MORANT, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIEs (G)
Notable Stats: 26.7p / 5.9r / 6.8a on 57 TS%, Current Record: 41-20
Ja is a “Most Improved Player” favorite, going from a talented developing guard to an All-Star starter that has been revitalizing the Grizzlies’ culture. Them cruising from a shaky ninth seed last year to a calm top three in the West nowadays is not acknowledged enough, and it’s largely because of Morant. He only keeps getting better, and it’ll be exciting to see how he leads such a talented young core in the playoffs.
TRAE YOUNG, ATLANTA HAWKS (G)
Notable Stats: 27.6p / 3.9r / 9.3a on 59 TS%, Current Record: 28-31
Trae Young has been having an absolutely monstrous season, and it’s only Atlanta’s record that hurts his case for higher praise. He currently stands as the arguable best offensive guard in the league, with a lethal shot from anywhere on the floor that manages to mask his questionable defense. It’s a matter of Atlanta’s front office to bring the team to a contention level, as Trae is clearly capable of being a first option.
JOEL EMBIID, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (C)
Notable Stats: 29.7p / 11.1r / 4.5a on 61 TS%, Current Record: 36-23
Embiid might be the best example of why the All-Team format might need to change; only one of him and Nikola Jokic can make the First Team, but both absolutely deserve it. It’s no surprise that Embiid is the media’s MVP favorite with his story this year and otherworldly stats, leading the entire league in scoring average. The only thing keeping him in second place is lesser versatility compared to Denver’s star, but it’s a very even argument.
JAYSON TATUM, BOSTON CELTICS (F)
Notable Stats: 25.8p / 8.4r / 4.2a on 56 TS%, Current Record: 36-26
With the Celtics’ success since the turn of the year, Tatum naturally deserves a selection. He is the first option on what is arguably the best defensive team in the league, and uplifts them offensively with his prolific scoring and improving playmaking. He’s improved his efficiency on all fronts in the past couple months, and this in combination with his great defense make this spot hard to deny.
DEMAR DEROZAN, Chicago Bulls (F)
Notable Stats: 28.3p / 5.2r / 5.1a on 60 TS%, Current Record: 39-21
When considering how absolutely ridiculous of a scorer he is in addition to Chicago’s amazing record, DeMar is a Second Team lock and has an easy case to be higher. LeBron and Giannis are tough competition with their more impressive adaptability and defense, but he is regardless a top-tier forward that is having a historic scoring run.
Averaging 36p on 58% in the month of February…that isn’t human.
CURRENT ALL-3rd TEAM
chris paul, phoenix suns (G)
Notable Stats: 14.9p / 10.7a / 1.9s on 58 TS%, Current Record: 49-11
While his eligibility may shift now that he’s injured for possibly the rest of the season, CP3 has continued to prove his value to this Phoenix team. His impact exceeds standard statistics, as his capabilities as a floor general are nearly unrivaled. The Suns currently sit with the best record in the NBA, and him fueling their offense definitely has something to do with it.
DEVIN BOOKER, phoenix suns (G)
Notable Stats: 25.6p / 5.2r / 4.6a on 56 TS%, Current Record: 49-11
While we’re on that note, the other half of Phoenix’s backcourt rounds out the guards here; Booker’s lethal scoring ability and ever-expanding game have secured him in the All-NBA race, and the record is what pushes him over his competitors. His case may become even greater now that Chris Paul is injured, as he’s taken over his point guard role with mild success.
RUDY GOBERT, utah jazz (C)
Notable Stats: 15.6p / 14.8r / 2.3b on 73 TS%, Current Record: 37-22
Gobert may remain the most disrespected player in the league. Without him the Jazz have an abysmal defense, and it’s exactly why he remains a top “Defensive Player of the Year” candidate. He may not be the most flashy or versatile player around, but his rim protection and ability to transform the paint into a danger zone are what pushes him over other centers. That also goes without mentioning Utah’s great record.
JIMMY BUTLER, MIAMI HEAT (F)
Notable Stats: 21.8p / 6.3r / 1.8s on 58 TS%, Current Record: 39-21
Jimmy has a good case for making the makeshift Second Team; not many forwards are capable of scoring, playmaking, and defending with his level of effort on a nightly basis. His numbers this season are a slight dip from last year’s, but he manages to still remain great all-around and sit with one of the league’s best records. The only thing hurting his case is his lack of played games.
KEVIN DURANT, BROOKLYN NETS (F)
Notable Stats: 29.3p / 7.4r / 5.8a on 63 TS%, Current Record: 31-29
If not for an injury that kept him unavailable for the majority of 2022, Kevin Durant would likely be locked in the First Team. He’s far and away the league’s best scorer, and the Nets were 27-15 prior to his absence; their pitiful collapse since is clear proof of his impact. With recent news that he may return to play soon, it’s likely that he will solidify his spot in the All-Team race.
James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers (G)
While Harden has put up good numbers in comparison to most guards in the league, this is widely known as a down year for him that has involved more controversy than consistency. Regardless, he may manage to improve upon his season through a new environment in Philadelphia.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (G)
Mitchell is very similar to Devin Booker statistically, and is probably the slightly better player. What knocks him off in comparison is the worse record; everything else points to him being an All-NBA-caliber talent, especially as a first option on a talented squad.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (c)
Towns was very close to making the proposed Third Team, with the Timberwolves currently managing a winning record for the first time in years. That can be attributed to his absurd efficiency (40% from three!) and ability to lead a steadily improving Minnesota team.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (f)
Middleton has been having a good season, although nothing exceptional. Considering the lack of forward depth in the league right now, his spot here is more or less valid; he’s still the second option on a reigning championship team and an All-Star caliber player.
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors (f)
Siakam has silently been having what is arguably his best season, with career high averages in points, rebounds, assists, and steals that are only overshadowed by a missing All-Star appearance. The Raptors’ improvements as of late can partially be owed to him.