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Bleacher Report's Official All-NBA Teams

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 17, 2013

Bleacher Report's Official All-NBA Teams

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    Throughout the 2012-13 NBA season, over 500 different players have suited up for the 30 teams across the Association. Only 15 of them have the honor of being selected to Bleacher Report's official All-NBA teams. 

    Talk about a select group. 

    A talented cast of B/R writers and editors filled out ballots with their first-team, second-team and third-team selections, and the results are presented here, along with comparisons to both my personal ballot and B/R's preseason predictions.

    Players received three points for a first-team selection, two for a second-team nod and one for a third-team pick. The two guards, two forwards and one center with the highest totals earned top honors. Each of the remaining teams was formed in the same vein. 

    Remember, distinctions between point guards and shooting guards don't matter for All-NBA teams, and neither does the difference between a small forward and power forward. 

    So, who's on your ballot? 

     

    Voters: Haddon Anderson, Zachary Arthur, Mathias Ask, Ross Bentley, Roy Burton, Simon Cherin-Gordon, Ryan Clutter, Josh Cohen, Kenny DeJohn, John Dorn, Stephen Fenech, Tom Firme, Ricky Frech, Adam Fromal, Jeff Glauser, Ciaran Gowan, Sean Hojnacki, Justin Hussong, Garrett Jochnau, Nick Juskewycz, Ehran Khan, Andrew Kipp, Ben Leibowitz, Dave Leonardis, Andy Liu, Andrew Montero, Jonathan Munshaw, Alec Nathan, Ethan Norof, Daniel O'Brien, Maxwell Ogden, James Pearson, Luke Petkac, Michael Pina, Sloan Piva, J.M. Poulard, Grant Rindner, Jordan Rodewald, Howard Ruben, Kelly Scaletta, Bryan Toporek, Mike Walsh, Marshall Zweig

First-Team Guard: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (127 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 0.1 blocks, 2.4 steals, 26.33 PER

     

    Chris Paul was one of just five players to make it onto every submitted ballot, although he fell two first-team votes shy of achieving unanimity in this spot. 

    The Los Angeles Clippers floor general is everything you could ask for in a point guard, and he's undoubtedly the driving force behind the Western Conference contender's success. Take CP3 off the Clippers, and you might be looking at a lottery team. 

    Paul is a tremendous two-way player, leading the NBA in steals per game for the fifth time in the past six seasons while playing lockdown perimeter defense. Steals and good defense can often be mutually exclusive (see: Ellis, Monta) because players with a penchant for gambling in the passing lanes often let up easy buckets as well. 

    But while gambles don't always pay off, they seem to for Paul for often than not. 

    Eric Bledsoe's greatness off the bench has partially overshadowed the starting point guard's defensive impact. It's tough to argue against Paul's inclusion on an NBA All-Defensive squad for the third-straight year, though, especially considering his deadly combination of skill on the less glamorous end of the court. 

    As for offense, well, that's where it's more readily apparent just how good the 27-year-old is. His ability to find open spots on the court and make his way to them is unparalleled at the point guard position, and he's always in firm control of the game. 

    No player better embodies the "floor general" moniker, and that's why the Clippers have been so much better offensively when Paul is on the court. Scoring 101.2 points per 100 possessions, as L.A. does when CP3 sits, would give the team the fourth-worst offense in the Association. 

    When Paul plays, though, the Clippers score 112.0 points per 100 possessions

     

    Fromal's Vote: Chris Paul

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Chris Paul

First-Team Guard: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (109 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 23.09 PER

     

    Kobe Bryant's Achilles injury occurred late enough in the season that we probably won't have a reliable sample size to determine what this team is like without the Mamba playing nearly 40 minutes per game. We all have a pretty good idea, though, and it ain't pretty.

    Regardless of his effort level while playing off-ball defense, the Los Angeles Lakers would be nowhere without Kobe. Throughout a turbulent season full of speed bumps so large they could be mistaken for mountains, this shooting guard has been the one steady presence in the lineup. 

    If Mike D'Antoni needed Kobe to serve as the team's primary scorer, he was more than happy to fill that rule. Duh. It's Kobe. 

    But even if the mustachioed offensive mastermind needed the Mamba to spend a significant portion of a game dishing out the ball to his teammates and challenging for a dollar's worth of dimes, Kobe was still going to get the job done. 

    Quite frankly, this may have been the best season of the future Hall of Famer's career. Given the turmoil in Hollywood, the constant demands on his aging body and his level of performance, Kobe's 2012-13 season can only be described as sensational. 

    His final game, one that will become legendary if L.A. makes the playoffs and has a Ewing Theory run into the later stages, serves as a microcosm of his entire season. Bruised, battered and under extreme pressure, Kobe didn't give in until his Achilles completely abandoned him. 

    And even then, he still forced his broken body to the charity stripe, where he drilled two flat-footed free throws to tie up the game before heading to the locker room. 

     

    Fromal's Vote: Kobe Bryant

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Kobe Bryant

First-Team Forward: LeBron James, Miami Heat (129 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.7 steals, 31.68 PER

     

    LeBron James was the only player to appear as a first-teamer on all 43 ballots, and it's only fitting. He's a shoo-in for the league MVP and the owner of the imaginary title belt bestowed upon the best player in a world.  

    How many players have legitimate claims to being the best in basketball on both sides of the court?

    It's hard for a perimeter player to have the same level of defensive impact as an interior one, but LeBron's versatility at least puts him into the conversation. We've seen him frequently take on guards when the matchup calls for it, but we've also watched him cover big men in crucial situations. 

    As for offense, I could throw plenty of numbers at you, but what's the point here? It's not like anyone needs convincing if they've watched LeBron, as he makes basketball look far too easy. 

    The gap between him and the rest of the league is only widening, and we'll have to start talking about this season as a potential G.O.A.T. if James leads the Miami Heat to a second consecutive title. 

     

    Fromal's Vote: LeBron James

    B/R's Preseason Pick: LeBron James

First-Team Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (122 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 28.30 PER

     

    Kevin Durant's offensive season has been simply remarkable. 

    We've had 50/40/90 seasons before, but only Larry Bird has managed to join that exclusive club while scoring as often as Durant. Those 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons are the only viable comparisons for Durant's feats, as they're the only other recorded 50/40/90 campaigns in which a player averaged at least 25 points per game. 

    At this point, though, we all know how impressive Durant's scoring abilities are. He's made strides in that area of the game, but his defensive play and passing skills have taken even bigger leaps. 

    Durant has finally figured out how to use his ultra-lanky body to his advantage on defense, and other teams are quickly realizing that they can't just attack him with hopes of either scoring easy buckets or drawing cheap fouls.

    The Durantula is actually holding opposing small forwards to a 10.2 PER in the 2012-13 season. His help defense and off-ball work have a ways to go, but he's gradually becoming a shut-down perimeter defender.

    As for his facilitating, the 24-year-old is no longer just passing out of double teams and swinging the ball around the perimeter. He's actively looking to make plays, and he's making noticeably more difficult passes than he was at the start of the year.

    Durant developing some wrap-around passes as he drives to the bucket is truly terrifying, and so too is his newfound ability to throw a pocket pass out to a spot-up shooter hovering around the arc.  

     

    Fromal's Vote: Kevin Durant

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Kevin Durant


First-Team Center: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (104 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 blocks, 0.7 steals, 24.60 PER

     

    Few decisions on the ballot were more difficult than deciding upon the first-team center. Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez and Dwight Howard all earned votes for the spot, but the seemingly ageless veteran managed to lock it up rather definitively. 

    Duncan's ability to protect the rim was invaluable for the San Antonio Spurs. Even with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker patrolling the outside of defensive sets, the Spurs still allowed a lot of penetration. 

    Fortunately for them, Duncan managed to turn almost all of it away. 

    With the Big Fundamental on the court, Gregg Popovich's stingy squad allowed a stellar 96.9 points per 100 possessions. That mark would be the best in the NBA by a significant margin, beating out even the Indiana Pacers' suffocating defense, if it weren't for the five-man units that didn't include Duncan. 

    They were still solid, but the 101.3 points per 100 possessions that opponents scored while the big man watched from the pine just made Duncan's units look even more fantastic by comparison. 

    The biggest difference, though, came on the boards. Duncan may not have averaged double-digit rebounds per game, but his impact on San Antonio's defense was phenomenal. 

    While the Spurs' defensive rebounding percentage of 73.1 without Duncan would place them 23rd in the Association, the 76.3 mark with him would be the best percentage in the league. 

    Not bad for a 36-year-old. 

     

    Fromal's Vote: Marc Gasol

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Dwight Howard


Second-Team Guard: James Harden, Houston Rockets (88 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 25.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.8 steals, 23.13 PER

     

    James Harden didn't just superficially improve because his role increased when he was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets before the start of the season. He started playing more and got better, which makes him a legitimate candidate for Most Improved Player. 

    His passing was the aspect of his game that took the largest step forward, simply because his efficient scoring was already at such a ridiculously high level while he was coming off the bench to spark OKC's second unit. 

    Harden was used 7.3 percent more in Houston's offense than he was during the 2011-12 season with the Thunder, but he didn't turn the ball over more frequently. His turnover percentage—the most telling of the stats dealing with coughing up the ball—remained constant, rising only a single 10th of a point between the two seasons. 

    Meanwhile, Harden's assist percentage skyrocketed. Thanks to Harden's impressive proficiency running pick-and-rolls and skipping the ball out to three-point shooters in the corners, his assist percentage this year was a staggering 25.8 percent. Kevin McHale's offensive system, which relies almost exclusively on PnR sets, three-pointers, shots at the rim and utter disdain for mid-range attempts fits in perfectly with Harden's skill-set. 

    Boy, did he take advantage of that. 

     

    Fromal's Vote: James Harden

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Rajon Rondo

Second-Team Guard: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (68 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.8 steals, 23.95 PER

     

    Two things stand out thus far during Russell Westbrook's stellar NBA career. 

    The first is his ability to play in every single game the Oklahoma City Thunder offer him. In his five-year tenure with the team, Westbrook has yet to miss a single contest, and he's averaged 34.4 minutes per game. That's an insane level of durability. 

    Second is the dynamic point guard's ability to improve each and every single year on both ends of the court. 

    So, how did Westbrook use his 2012-13 season to top the previous campaign? 

    He just got more efficient. While his shooting numbers are down—referring to drops in both effective field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage—Westbrook has more than made up for the subtle difference with his playmaking. 

    The floor general is averaging an additional two dimes per game while working with a simultaneous drop in his turnovers. Just as he's done each year of his NBA life, Westbrook has dropped his turnover percentage yet again. 

    Although he plays a style of basketball that subjects him to quite a bit of undue criticism, he also does more than enough to earn an even greater level of praise. 

     

    Fromal's Vote: Tony Parker

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Russell Westbrook

Second-Team Forward: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks (93 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 24.83 PER

     

    Carmelo Anthony was another of the five players to appear on each of the 43 ballots, joining Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant in that exclusive category. He also never fell below the second team, earning 36 votes there and seven for the level occupied by Durant and LeBron. 

    It was all enough for Melo to fit in rather comfortably between the first-team spots and the rest of the NBA. 

    No player has been used more heavily than the NBA's leading scorer, but Anthony has also been incredibly turnover averse. That's a rare combination, and it's what has allowed Mike Woodson's offense to function so effectively during his first full season in charge of the New York Knicks. 

    Melo turns the ball over on only 9.3 percent of his possessions, which leaves him just shy of the top 20 players in that category. For such a ball-dominant player with this much offensive responsibility, that's remarkable. 

    Anthony's willingness to play at the 4 and body up against bigger players has also been invaluable for the Madison Square Garden residents. He's actually allowed a lower PER to power forwards and centers than small forwards on the season, as the close proximity to Tyson Chandler in half-court sets has allowed him to find even more success on that end of the hardwood.

    While the Knicks are still worse defensively when Melo is on the court, he's made a concerted effort to prevent points this season, and the defensive sets don't need to focus on masking his inefficiencies. That allows his offense to take on even more value.

    And a s we all know, Anthony is a pretty decent offensive player.  

     

    Fromal's Vote: Carmelo Anthony

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Carmelo Anthony

Second-Team Forward: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (49 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.2 steals, 22.70 PER

     

    The best healthy—and true—power forward in basketball, Blake Griffin manages to put the ball on the floor and drive past his defender for either a thunderous slam or a finesse shot quite often.

    He's developed a nice hook shot close to the basket, and he uses it to great success when moving from left to right. When three to 10 feet from the basket, the former Oklahoma standout has dropped in that hook 53.9 percent of the time. 

    Griffin's second move is the spin move. You've all seen it, and so has every single defender in the NBA. Yet they still can't stop it. 

    That's when you know a move is strong.

    Finally, he's a fantastic distributor, one of the best inch-for-inch passers we have in professional basketball. Griffin doesn't try to make too much happen when he lets go of the rock, but good things usually result. 

     

    Fromal's Vote: Blake Griffin

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Kevin Love

Second-Team Center: Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (58 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.0 steals, 19.66 PER

     

    Marc Gasol has been an absolute rock at the center of the Memphis Grizzlies defense, and he's earning quite a bit of consideration for Defensive Player of the Year as a result. Well, I suppose he's been a very mobile rock, but you get what I mean. 

    This spot was supposed to be reserved for Andrew Bynum, but the Philadelphia 76ers big man has been absent throughout the 2012-13 campaign, making news solely for his outlandish hairstyles and decrepit knees.

    That's allowed Gasol to emerge as one of the league's truly elite big men. In my opinion, he's had a better season than any other center, but the masses have spoken. 

    Memphis' defense is already notoriously stingy. When you have the Grizz on your schedule, you better prepare yourself for a game in which points are at an absolute premium. 

    But when Gasol is on the court, you might as well give up on scoring points at a high rate.

    Remember how Tim Duncan's San Antonio Spurs allowed 96.9 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would be the best in the league if it were all that counted? Well, Gasol's Grizzlies allow 95.4 points per 100 possessions when he's on the court. 

    How's that for a suffocating unit?

     

    Fromal's Vote: Tim Duncan

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Andrew Bynum

Third-Team Guard: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (63 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 steals, 23.13 PER

     

    Tony Parker was a vogue MVP sleeper midway through the season, but injuries quickly put an end to that. The French point guard has been crazy good when on the court, but the prolonged period he spent in a suit allowed quite a few people to jump him on the ballot. 

    It's hard to believe that a player with as much offensive responsibility as Parker could play such efficient basketball, but that's exactly what this 30-year-old does. 

    The list of players who have averaged 20 points and seven assists per game throughout a season while shooting at least 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the charity stripe is a rather short one. Parker is the newest addition, and he joins Michael Jordan, Chris Paul, Kevin Johnson (twice), Magic Johnson (twice), Larry Bird, Calvin Murphy and Oscar Robertson (twice) in the exclusive club.

    Parker's brilliance comes from his ability—and to a certain extent, willingness—to play within the confines of Gregg Popovich's system. Any intelligent player would do the same, because Pop's strategic excellence may only be surpassed by the sneering vitriol he directs in the general direction of sideline reporters. 

    His smoothness stems from this knack for staying in the flow of the offense, and it's about the only thing preventing him from seeming like a superstar on a nightly basis in the eyes of the average fan. 

    He certainly plays like one, but it's not readily apparent until you take a look at the box score and realize, "Woah, this dude dominated the game!" 

     

    Fromal's Vote: Russell Westbrook

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Dwyane Wade

Third-Team Guard: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (33 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.6 steals, 21.37 PER

     

    Words cannot properly express the beautiful entity that is Stephen Curry's jumper. When the Davidson product stops, cocks and launches the ball in an arc so perfect that it would make even Euclid swoon, the crowd doesn't even bother holding its collective breath. 

    Why would it bother? Everyone knows the shot is probably dropping.

    There's only one negative aspect to Curry's shooting from behind the three-point arc: It overshadows his handles. Watch him put Gary Neal on skates with his Jason Williams-esque ball-handling, and you'll see what I mean. 

    The baby-faced assassin has put up some seriously gaudy point totals and won over virtually every fanbase during the 2012-13 season. It was enough for him to beat out a few All-Stars and earn the All-NBA nod. 

    Curry may be the league's best pure shooter, but he's by no means only a sniper. 

     

    Fromal's Vote: Dwyane Wade

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Deron Williams

    Others Receiving Votes: Dwyane Wade (21 points), Kyrie Irving (2), Greivis Vasquez (1), Deron Williams (1), Damian Lillard (1), Monta Ellis (1)

Third-Team Forward: Paul George, Indiana Pacers (38 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.8 steals, 16.84 PER

     

    Paul George has had an incredible two-way impact for the Indiana Pacers during his breakout season, firmly establishing himself as a superstar on both ends of the court. The 22-year-old has plenty to work on still, but the sky is the limit if he continues to develop at this meteoric rate. 

    Without George, who has spent more time at small forward than shooting guard this season in Danny Granger's stead, the Pacers have a great defense. With this top-notch perimeter stopper in the lineup, it's even better. 

    Indiana allows 2.2 fewer points per 100 possessions when George is on the court, and that's pretty impressive since the starting point was already 98.2.

    A similar story unfolds on the other side of the floor, and it could be argued that George is the biggest reason the Pacers offense has been able to stay afloat. His ball-handling and versatility is staggering, and Frank Vogel doesn't hesitate to let things run through him.

    With George in the lineup, Indiana averages 103.2 points per 100 possessions. Without him, that number plummets to 96.5, which would be the worst mark in the league by a wide margin (the Washington Wizards currently sit in the cellar at 100.2).  

     

    Fromal's Vote: Paul George

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Blake Griffin

Third-Team Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers (29 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.8 steals, 20.20 PER

     

    No spot was more closely contested than the final forward selection, as LaMarcus Aldridge bested David Lee of the Golden State Warriors by a mere four points. 

    The Portland Trail Blazers big man won't typically blow you away with his performance on the court, but his all-around game will slowly allow him to take over each contest. His mid-range shooting has been over-hyped, but he makes up for that everywhere else. 

    He's become particularly proficient from the left block, where he's able to go to work and see the offense developing around him. 

    However, Aldridge's offense has taken a slight step backward during the 2012-13 campaign, so it shouldn't truly be the focus here.

    At the same time, he's turned into much more of a defensive player, holding opposing 4's to a 15.9 PER during the 2012-13 campaign. 

    That number is just about in line with the one from the season before, but his veteran savvy has allowed him to overcome his relative lack of size when battling away against centers. It's while playing against the biggest men on the court that his true improvement has been most readily apparent.  

     

    Fromal's Vote: LaMarcus Aldridge

    B/R's Preseason Pick: Josh Smith

    Others Receiving Votes: David Lee (25 points), David West (14), Paul Pierce (9), Josh Smith (5), Zach Randolph (2)

Third-Team Center: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls (29 Points)

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    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.2 blocks, 1.2 steals, 18.28 PER

     

    Joakim Noah has always been known as an uber-skilled energy guy, but ESPN's Tom Haberstroh managed to prove that with the help of SportVU technology: 

    Let's say you want to know who might be the most exhausted player in the game. The minutes-per-game leaderboard would be the first place you'd go, right? But what if I told you that a guy who doesn't even rank in the top 10 in minutes per game probably runs more than anybody else?

    It's true: Noah, who ranks 14th in minutes per game, ran a staggering 2.74 miles per game under the SportVU lens. No one has covered more distance than the high-energy center on a game-to-game basis—and that includes Luol Deng, who leads the NBA in minutes per game with a 38.9 figure. Deng actually came in second with 2.68 miles run per game. Something tells me that Tom Thibodeau won't be satisfied until the top five consists of all Bulls players.

    Think about that. A 6'11", 232-pound man is running nearly a 5K in 37 minutes each game while playing basketball. And he's not collapsing halfway through a fast break either. 

    Instead, Noah spends his time terrorizing opposing offenses, cleaning the boards with the best of the them and providing versatile contributions on offense.

    If you watch Chicago Bulls games on a regular basis, you know it's not all that uncommon to see Noah dribbling the ball up the court in transition or running the show in the half-court set. 

    Plenty of centers competed for this final spot on the All-NBA teams, but Noah is certainly deserving of it. 

     

    Fromal's Vote: Joakim Noah

    B/R's Preseason Pick: DeMarcus Cousins 

    Others Receiving Votes: Brook Lopez (22 points), Dwight Howard (19), Al Horford (18), Chris Bosh (4), Nikola Vucevic (2), Omer Asik (2), Kevin Garnett (1)

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