Complete All-NBA First Team and Second Team Predictions
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
When you go back and look at the greatest players in basketball history, most of them have received the honor of a selection onto either the First or Second Team. In fact, one great way to get a quick estimate of a player's career is to look at how many times he was selected.
After all, to make one of these squads, you have to be among the very best at your position. And, unlike All-Star nominations, the teams are selected after the entire season has been played, so there's no chance of a second-half drop-off tainting a selection.
Remember, the All-NBA teams are formed by putting together two guards, two forwards and a center. The type of guard doesn't matter, and neither does the type of forward.
Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, are current through Wednesday, May 1 and come from Basketball-Reference.com and ESPN.com.
First-Team Guard: Chris Paul
Harry How/Getty Images
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Regular-Season Stats: 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.1 blocks, 26.4 PER
If you sit down and focus on Chris Paul throughout the roughly 35 minutes he spends on the court for the Los Angeles Clippers, you can't help but be impressed. Come to think of it, you might have the same type of reaction if you stood up to watch too...
CP3 truly embodies the "floor general" moniker. He never stops talking and directing traffic, and each move he makes on the hardwood has a purpose to it. Watch the herky-jerky movements, the subtle screen and the ability to get to whatever spot he wants.
As Lester Freamon said on The Wire, "All the pieces matter." No one understands that better than Paul.
All the pieces of Paul's 2012-13 resume matter as well, and all of them are positive. For one more year, he's been the clear-cut No. 1 point guard in the league, although quite a few young 1-guards will be gunning for his title next season.
First-Team Guard: Kobe Bryant
Harry How/Getty Images
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Regular-Season Stats: 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 23.10 PER
You can knock Kobe Bryant for his defensive efforts (or lack thereof) all you want, but it's hard to find much fault in his offense.
The Mamba's best offensive season ever was a fantastic one, even if it ended a bit prematurely thanks to his faulty Achilles tendon. Kobe has put up better yearly numbers before, but considering his age and the constant turmoil surrounding the Lake Show during the 2012-13 season, it's hard to say any have been more impressive.
Bryant filled any role that Mike D'Antoni asked him to fill. If he needed to serve as the primary facilitator and play like he was going to challenge the point guards for supremacy in the assists-per-game category, that's what he was going to do.
Through the coaching change, the never-ending stream of injuries and the constant media pressure, one thing was consistent in Tinseltown: Kobe Bryant's play.
First-Team Forward: LeBron James
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Team: Miami Heat
Regular-Season Stats: 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks, 31.6 PER
There aren't enough superlatives to throw at LeBron James after his historically great 2012-13 campaign.
Let's just focus on the PER for a second. LeBron's 31.6 not only led the league, but also placed him among the legends of basketball history. Here are the top 12 single-season PERs of all time, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com:
|1||Wilt Chamberlain||San Francisco Warriors||1962-63||31.82|
|2||Wilt Chamberlain||Philadelphia Warriors||1961-62||31.74|
|3||Michael Jordan||Chicago Bulls||1987-88||31.71|
|4||LeBron James||Cleveland Cavaliers||2008-09||31.67|
|5||Michael Jordan||Chicago Bulls||1990-91||31.63|
|6||Wilt Chamberlain||San Francisco Warriors||1963-64||31.63|
|7||LeBron James||Miami Heat||2012-13||31.59|
|8||Michael Jordan||Chicago Bulls||1989-90||31.18|
|9||Michael Jordan||Chicago Bulls||1988-89||31.14|
|10||LeBron James||Cleveland Cavaliers||2009-10||31.11|
|11||LeBron James||Miami Heat||2011-12||30.74|
|12||David Robinson||San Antonio Spurs||1993-94||30.66|
Obviously that's a pretty exclusive list, and it's one that's dominated by three names: Wilt, MJ and LeBron.
There's no point in comparing LeBron to the rest of the NBA this season. If you want to find a proper comparison, you're going to have to look at the historical greats.
He was just that good for the Miami Heat.
First-Team Forward: Kevin Durant
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Regular-Season Stats: 28.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks, 28.3 PER
Although the Oklahoma City Thunder are currently proving just how valuable Russell Westbrook was to the cause, Kevin Durant is still the best player on the squad and the second-best player in the NBA.
Frankly, I feel bad for the rest of the forwards in the Association, because KD and LeBron James have the First-Team forward spots on lock for the foreseeable future.
Durant took noticeable strides forward during the 2012-13 season, even if he wasn't able to win the scoring title for the fourth time in his career. Although his points per game rose by 0.1, he conceded the crown to Carmelo Anthony.
Additionally, the lanky 24-year-old played with remarkable efficiency, joining the 50/40/90 club while upping his true shooting percentage from an impressive 61.0 to an even more stellar 64.7. And that's not the only area in which he's improved.
Durant has become more of a facilitator. He now actively looks to create for his teammates, and his passes are getting both more crisp and more difficult.
The small forward is becoming an increasingly complete basketball player. Reducing him to just a "scorer" is doing Durant an incredible disservice.
First-Team Center: Marc Gasol
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Regular-Season Stats: 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.7 blocks, 19.5 PER
Of all the First-Team spots, the center position is easily the most closely contested. You could make legitimate arguments for Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah or Tim Duncan, and Al Horford, Brook Lopez and Dwight Howard aren't entirely unreasonable selections.
However, Gasol stands out above the rest.
The Defensive Player of the Year is by no means just a paint protector who specializes in preventing other players from putting up points. He's fantastic on defense, basically providing younger big men with the textbook example of how to guard the interior, but that's not all he brings to the table.
Gasol is also a versatile offensive stud, capable of scoring, rebounding and passing with the best of the 7-footers. According to NBA.com, the Memphis Grizzlies scored 4.1 points per 100 possessions more when this big man took to the court.
The Spaniard loves to scream after making a big play, and if he were to yell out, "Are you not entertained!?!?" I'd have no choice but to reply, "Yes. Yes I am."
Second-Team Guard: James Harden
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Team: Houston Rockets
Regular-Season Stats: 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 22.9 PER
If James Harden gets the ball in transition, you might as well focus your eyes on the basket. He's going to make it there, no matter how many players try to stand in his way.
Harden is a one-man wrecking crew on a fast break. His ability to outrun and weave through opposing players is virtually unmatched, and he has the flashy handles to boot.
Even in half-court sets, Harden is a master at getting to the tin and either finishing the play for two points or drawing contact and walking a few strides backward to the free-throw line. He may not have the best field-goal percentage (43.8 percent), but his true shooting percentage of 60 is pretty darn impressive.
That number places him 14th in the league, behind a number of three-point specialists and big men who live in the colored area of the court. The only true No. 1 options ahead of him are Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Although the bearded 2-guard must improve his defensive game rather quickly, his offensive contributions are about as valuable as they come.
Second-Team Guard: Tony Parker
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Regular-Season Stats: 20.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks, 23.0 PER
This is another heavily contested spot in the All-NBA teams. Cases can certainly be made for Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry, but this honor is Tony Parker's to lose, even though he missed a significant portion of the season.
Remember, it wasn't too long ago that the French floor general was a bona fide MVP candidate. Errr, MVP Runner-Up candidate.
Parker has enjoyed a stellar career with the San Antonio Spurs, but his 30th birthday seemed to trigger something. He's put together the finest season of his time in the Association, bar none.
Averaging 20.3 points and 7.6 assists per game is impressive. Putting up those numbers while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and coughing the ball up only 2.6 times per contest is more impressive. Recording all those numbers while still expending enough energy on defense to be an elite perimeter stopper is most impressive.
Due to lost time, Parker only accumulated the 16th-most win shares in the NBA during the 2012-13 season. However, if you look at win shares per 48 minutes, only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler managed to top him.
Second-Team Forward: Carmelo Anthony
Al Bello/Getty Images
Team: New York Knicks
Regular-Season Stats: 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 24.8 PER
Carmelo Anthony is an absolute lock for a Second-Team selection. Many other years, he would have just submitted a season impressive enough to move up to the top squad, but not in a league with Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
The league's leading scorer was the unquestioned go-to player for the New York Knicks, and it's a role he thrived in. Although he shot a fairly low percentage from the field, checking in at 44.9 percent, the volume of his scoring contributions and the aforementioned role on the team directly contributed to it.
Other than J.R. Smith, New York didn't have many other consistent scorers, so it truly was Melo's responsibility to carry the load. Plus, he showed much more of a willingness to dish the rock to his teammates this season.
Those may not have resulted in assists, but Melo would have racked up the hockey assists if we kept track of such things.
Add in the fact that the 28-year-old spent the year laboring away at power forward against much bigger players, and it should be quite clear just how much value Melo had during the 2012-13 season.
Second-Team Forward: Blake Griffin
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Regular-Season Stats: 18.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.2 steals, 22.44 PER
Blake Griffin's numbers slipped at the end of his latest season with the Los Angeles Clippers, but those don't count any more or less than the ones he posted at the beginning of the year. Each game still counts as exactly one game, and Blake was truly dominant at the start of the 2012-13 campaign.
Although he still struggles defensively at times, Blake improved considerably. The range of his jumper is improving, his spin move is just as devastating as ever and his passing is only getting better.
No power forward passes the ball better than the former Oklahoma Sooner who actively creates looks for his teammates with his ability to distribute the rock. Blake's assist percentage jumped to 19.9 percent, and according to Hoopdata, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Josh McRoberts were the only qualified 4s to beat his assist rate.
All three of the aforementioned big men also turned the ball over more, though, and Blake played significantly more minutes than all of them.
Second-Team Center: Tim Duncan
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Regular-Season Stats: 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.7 blocks, 24.4 PER
The only thing keeping Tim Duncan from that coveted First-Team spot is the amount of time he spent on the court during the regular season.
Duncan played 30.1 minutes per game for the San Antonio Spurs, which leaves him nearly five minutes shy of Marc Gasol's average. He also played 11 fewer games.
As a result, Duncan would need to dramatically outperform Gasol on a per-minute basis to hold more value, and that's something that just didn't happen. He was undeniably impressive, but so was his counterpart on the Memphis Grizzlies.
The big man who recently celebrated his 37th birthday is a living legend in the NBA, and he flat-out refuses to succumb to the passage of time. Father Time who? What years under the belt?
Duncan continues to dominate on both ends of the court and was a legitimate contender for Defensive Player of the Year while providing the Spurs with a ton of positive offensive contributions.