As the NBA season winds down, pundits around the league are releasing their All-NBA team picks. Each year, there is a lot of frustration around these awards. Bradley Beal was arguably last season’s biggest snub despite averaging over 30 points per game, good for second in the league. This season, the snubs could be even more high profile.
LeBron James, James Harden and Kevin Durant are all in danger of missing out on the prestigious honor. Each for the same reason: games played. The appearance of any of the three on an All-NBA team, considering the percentage of the season they’ve each missed, would be a rarity in NBA history.
Durant is pretty much a lock to be left off this year. While his averages of 27.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists are certainly impressive, he’s played less than half the season which is pretty much an automatic disqualification. James Harden has a slightly better chance than Durant, but is also very unlikely to make the team. ESPN’s Zach Lowe, one of the voters for these teams, highlighted that Harden’s lack of effort in Houston could be held against him by voters in addition to his low games played total:
“I think James [Harden] has played 42 games? Eight of them were ‘let me get the fuck out of Houston’ games and so I’m not even counting them. So, to me James Harden has played 34 games this season for All-NBA reasons.” Lowe said on a recent podcast. “His first eighth of the season is sort of distinct and shouldn’t count.”
The real interesting argument is LeBron James. Regarded as one of the two best players of all-time and the greatest player of this generation, there would be a monstrous uproar if James were to be left off the team. There is a possibility that the large fanbase of both the Lakers and LeBron James would call for an overhaul of the entire voting system if James were to be left off the teams. James has already called for the firing of the person who came up with the idea for the NBA’s play-in tournament and would almost assuredly take exception to being a snub for All-NBA.
James is set to return to the Lakers lineup ahead of their matchup with the Indiana Pacers. If he misses the season finale against the Pelicans, he will have played about 61% of the Lakers season or roughly the 82-game equivalent of 50 games. Since 1970, only three players have made an All-NBA team while having played less than 61% of a season: Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Yao Ming. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, another NBA Award voter, said on Zach Lowe’s podcast that he “hasn’t decided” whether or not he will be putting LeBron on an All-NBA team.
“LeBron is in the mix, I just… Am I supposed to do this blind? Am I supposed to do this, hey, Player A, Player B, Player C, Player D, Player E. If I’m doing that, I don’t think LeBron makes it. Let’s just be honest. I mean, he’s got 43 games. I’m not giving anybody else consideration at that level.”
Ballots are due Monday, May 17th following the conclusion of the regular season. One similar situation to the one James finds himself in now was the case of Dirk Nowitzki in 2013. Nowitzki had made an All-NBA in 12 consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2012, but he only played 53 games in the 2012-13 season and wasn’t selected to any of the three teams for the first time in over a decade. LeBron currently holds the NBA record for All-NBA appearances in a career with 16 since 2005. He also holds the record for most first team appearances at 13.
(Mark J. Terrill – AP Photo)
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