Jayson Tatum: Joel Embiid Being Named 2nd-Team All-NBA Doesn't Make 'Too Much Sense'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 25, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 14: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics attempts a pass past Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center on January 14, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum came to the defense of the Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid by taking aim at the All-NBA positional breakdown.

Embiid received second-team honors despite spending the entire 2021-22 season in the MVP discussion. That's because the rules only allow for one center on the first team, a spot that went to MVP winner Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.

Tatum, a first-team selection, said Wednesday the situation "doesn't really make too much sense":

Celtics on NBC Sports Boston @NBCSCeltics

"There should just be some rules in place... Joel Embiid was second in MVP voting and made second team. Doesn't really make sense."<br><br>Jayson Tatum reacts to being named to All-NBA team and explains why the voting criteria should be updated.<br><br>Presented by your <a href="https://twitter.com/NEFordDealers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NEFordDealers</a> <a href="https://t.co/OQg6O7qA5z">pic.twitter.com/OQg6O7qA5z</a>

In an era where a lot more positionless basketball is being played, the simple breakdown of two guards, two forwards and one center on each All-NBA team doesn't fit as well as it did in the past.

Giannis Antetokounmpo spends a fair share of his playing time operating as a non-traditional center for the Milwaukee Bucks, but he still made the first team as a forward.

The role of center has also morphed in significant ways over the years. There are far fewer old-school post players who spend all their time around the rim as offenses seek bigs who can stretch the floor and, in the cases of Jokic and Embiid, help run the offense.

In March, Bill Simmons of The Ringer predicted voting issues related to the positional requirements:

Bill Simmons @BillSimmons

This is gonna lead to a voting disaster still time to fix this <a href="https://twitter.com/NBA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nba</a>. There are multiple confusing position guys. Jokic and LeBron are PGs on offense. Tatum/Brown/DeRozan/Bridges/Lavine are all perimeter swings. JJJ is a F/C. Etc etc. Doing G-F-C doesn’t make sense anymore. <a href="https://t.co/hk9vUuMFI6">https://t.co/hk9vUuMFI6</a>

The question is whether there's a solution beyond making it what amounts to a second MVP vote with the top 15 players from any position slotted anywhere on the three All-NBA teams.

That may be the only answer in order to avoid a snub like Embiid received this year, though. It took a season where the best two players were centers to further expose the obvious flaw in the system.

While it may not seem like the biggest deal on the surface, some players have All-NBA performance incentives in their contracts. Embiid had one related to his current deal before signing a four-year, $195.9 million supermax extension with the Sixers in 2021.

It'll be interesting to see whether the NBA addresses this before the 2022-23 campaign.