Building the 2020 All-NBA Playoff 1st, 2nd and 3rd Teams

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterSeptember 26, 2020

Building the 2020 All-NBA Playoff 1st, 2nd and 3rd Teams

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    With the NBA finally getting closer to the Finals, it's safe to select the all-playoff teams.

    A combination of individual production, team success and how far the player has advanced in the playoffs helped decide who landed on each squad. While Donovan Mitchell looked like the best player in the postseason during the first round, the Utah Jazz's failure to advance hurt his first-team case.

    Like the regular-season All-NBA selections, teams will consist of two guards, two forwards and a center. Some players may carry eligibility at multiple positions, but we'll be using the spots they've spent the most time at in the bubble.

    With the final four teams soon to become two, these are the All-NBA playoff teams.      

3rd-Team Center: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

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    Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 16.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 64.9 FG%, 38.6 minutes, plus-3.7

    Team Record: 3-4

    Rudy Gobert's Jazz only lasted one round, but the two-time Defensive Player of the Year was productive during his seven games.

    Prior to play Friday, the 28-year-old was sixth among all players in postseason rebounding and fourth in blocks per game. He converted nearly 65 percent of his shots, putting him first among those with at least 50 field-goal attempts.

    The 7'1" center's length and glass-cleaning helped keep Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic off the boards, as Jokic pulled down 8.1 rebounds per game against Utah before jumping to 13.4 in seven games against the Los Angeles Clippers.

    After registering a negative on/off rating during his first three years in the playoffs, Gobert was plus-8.6 this time around.     

3rd-Team Forward: Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 21.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 46.9 FG%, 39.5 minutes, plus-4.0

    Team Record: 10-6 (and counting)

    While Jayson Tatum has justifiably taken up most of the headlines in Boston, Brown has played a big part in getting the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Brown has surpassed Kemba Walker as the team's second-leading scorer, and the 23-year-old has shown the maturity and leadership of a 15-year vet.

    After averaging just 13.9 points in the playoffs in 2019, Brown is now averaging more than players like Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

    With Gordon Hayward in and out of the lineup with injury, Brown has had to switch between positions while defending multiple spots. His 23 steals this postseason rank fourth overall.        

3rd-Team Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 26.7 points, 13.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 55.9 FG%, 30.8 minutes, plus-3.0

    Team Record: 5-5

    The Milwaukee Bucks' second-round exit and an ankle injury keep Giannis Antetokounmpo on the third team, even if he dominated the Orlando Magic in Round 1.

    The two-time MVP put up 30.6 points, 16.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and shot 59.0 percent from the field in the conference quarterfinals, looking like the most dominant player in the league. Playing the Miami Heat in Round 2 brought him back to earth, however, with Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Bam Adebayo all doing their part to limit his production.

    While most players would be thrilled to average 21.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game, the Bucks needed far more from their star in Round 2.

    Antetokounmpo should still be recognized for his eye-popping numbers (and fourth-place 33.9 percent usage rate), but his team's semifinals defeat leaves him on the third team.                

3rd-Team Guard: James Harden, Houston Rockets

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 29.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 47.8 FG%, 37.3 minutes, plus-2.7

    Team Record: 5-7

    James Harden led all players in scoring during the second round and has placed fourth overall for the postseason so far, yet the Rockets ended their year with a gentleman's sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Harden's scoring actually dipped during the playoffs (34.3 points per game during the regular season)—an unexpected twist, especially with Russell Westbrook missing four games because of injury.

    After Luguentz Dort of the Oklahoma City Thunder did an admirable defensive job against him in Round 1, Harden put up three solid games against the Lakers before going just 2-for-11 in Game 4. His individual defense was quite good at times, however, and his playmaking was on point.

    Houston needed more from Harden against L.A., but the 2017-18 NBA MVP was still one of the bubble's most productive players.             

3rd-Team Guard: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 50.0 FG%, 35.8 minutes, minus-6.3

    Team Record: 2-4

    The good news? Luka Doncic was probably the second-best player in Round 1.

    The bad news? We never got a chance to see what he could do past that.

    Making his NBA postseason debut at age 21, Doncic dominated the Los Angeles Clippers' best defenders, nearly averaging a triple-double and carrying a Mavericks team that lost Kristaps Porzingis to a questionable ejection in Game 1 and later a knee injury.

    Luka's performance in Game 4 of 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists was arguably the best postseason showing to date, especially with his game-winning shot in overtime that tied the series.

    Doncic ranks second in scoring and usage rate (36.5 percent) this postseason, and he would be on the first or second team had the Mavericks advanced past the first round.           

2nd-Team Center: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 17.5 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 55.6 FG%, 36.6 minutes, plus-6.4

    Team Record: 11-3 (and counting)

    While Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic have all taken turns in the spotlight for Miami, Bam Adebayo has been the glue to hold the team together.

    One of the NBA's best defenders, Adebayo has showcased his all-around game this postseason, leading Miami in rebounds, assists and blocks at age 23. Only Anthony Davis and LeBron James have higher net ratings than Adebayo's plus-8.9, and the Heat are outscoring opponents by 89 points in 513 minutes with him on the floor.

    While centers like Joel Embiid, Nikola Vucevic and Kristaps Porzingis put up higher scoring averages, Adebayo's overall game and the Heat's success make him the bubble's second-best big man.            

2nd-Team Forward: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 28.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 48.9 FG%, 39.3 minutes, plus-1.9

    Team Record: 7-6

    With the Clippers holding a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the second round, Leonard looked like the bubble MVP. He was averaging 29.2 points per game on 51.5 percent shooting, pulling down near double-digit rebounds and showing enough playmaking chops to get L.A. to the Finals. Even his 36-point effort in a Game 5 loss helped remind everyone who the reigning Finals MVP was.

    Alas, Leonard went on to average just 19.5 points on 35.0 percent shooting over the Clippers' last two games. Going scoreless in the fourth quarter of Game 7 stung, as Jamal Murray outplayed Leonard to put Denver in the Western Conference Finals.

    While his team's result was disappointing, Leonard was brilliant for much of the postseason, especially with Paul George struggling mightily at times.

    Leonard's scoring average ranks sixth overall, and he tied with Robert Covington for the most steals (30) among postseason players.              

2nd-Team Forward: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 25.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 44.2 FG%, 40.4 minutes, plus-6.4

    Team Record: 10-6 (and counting)

    Tatum has made a strong argument for a place on the all-playoff first team and would likely be there if his Celtics were the ones leading the Eastern Conference Finals instead of the Miami Heat.

    Tatum is the only player still standing to be averaging at least 25 points and 10 rebounds per game, and he's nearly overtaken Kemba Walker as the leading playmaker on the Celtics.

    The 22-year-old forward did a bit of everything for Boston in its first-round sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers and later against the Toronto Raptors and now Miami, and we're likely getting our first real dose of Tatum as a true No. 1 option on a team that could win a Finals.

    While he's gone missing at times (zero points in the first half of Game 4 against Miami), he's also looked unstoppable at others (28 second-half points). He had a game-high 31 points in Friday's win over the Heat that kept the C's alive in the postseason.

    Even with plenty of help on the Celtics, Tatum has a higher usage rate (27.6 percent) than players like Jamal Murray, Jimmy Butler and Pascal Siakam this postseason.              

2nd-Team Guard: Goran Dragic, Miami Heat

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 21.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 45.6 FG%, 34.9 minutes, plus-6.2

    Team Record: 11-3 (and counting)

    Perhaps the most surprising player on this list, Goran Dragic has been absolutely terrific as Miami's starting point guard.

    The 34-year-old leads the Heat in scoring, with an increase of over five points per game from his regular-season average. He's taken pressure off Jimmy Butler as a scorer and ball-handler, and he makes sure to feed the hot hand when players like Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro heat up.

    While Dragic doesn't have the overall numbers of Luka Doncic or James Harden, his plus-7.5 net rating ranking third among guards behind LeBron James and Marcus Smart, and Miami is tied with the Lakers for the best winning percentage among playoff squads.

    With rookie standout Kendrick Nunn floating in and out of the rotation, Dragic has helped carry the Heat as their starting floor general.                    

2nd-Team Guard: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 36.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 52.9 FG%, 37.7 minutes, plus-5.4

    Team Record: 3-4

    Does a player whose team lost in the first round really deserve a spot on the all-playoff second team? Absolutely, provided that player is Donovan Mitchell.

    No one has come close to touching the 24-year-old's scoring average this postseason, as Mitchell put up a pair of 50-point games against the Nuggets in the first round. He pushed Utah to a 3-1 lead without its second-leading scorer in Bojan Bogdanovic, and no player has been as heavily worked in their time on the court this postseason (37 percent usage rate).

    Mitchell posted a ridiculously good 69.6 true shooting percentage in his seven games, connecting on 51.6 percent of his three-pointers.

    While his performance wasn't enough in the end, Mitchell still deserves a spot on the second team given that he was the best player in Round 1.                 

1st-Team Center: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 24.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 51.7 FG%, 36.9 minutes, minus-0.7

    Team Record: 9-9 (and counting)

    Jamal Murray has been the story of the Nuggets' postseason, but there's no way Denver would've made it to the Western Conference Finals without Jokic.

    Antetokounmpo is the only other player who has averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game this postseason, numbers that Jokic seemingly puts up with little effort. His play as a passer has helped Denver to a 112.9 offensive rating, as he keeps defenses spaced out and prevents them from collapsing on Murray.

    The only thing possibly holding Jokic back now is fatigue. The 25-year-old has gone scoreless in back-to-back fourth quarters against the Los Angeles Lakers.

    While a 3-1 hole is something the Nuggets have already overcome twice this postseason, they'll need more from Jokic at the end of games to continue their playoff magic.             

1st-Team Forward: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 28.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 57.6 FG%, 36.1 minutes, plus-9.7

    Team Record: 11-3 (and counting)

    Anthony Davis may not be the most valuable player on his own team, but his outstanding playoff performance is exactly why the Lakers gave up three young players and multiple first-round picks for him.

    Able to dominate a game on both ends of the floor, Davis finally got his signature playoff moment with a game-winning three-pointer in Game 2 against the Nuggets to put L.A. up 2-0 at the time.

    Davis is the leader among all active postseason scorers, with his 28.9 points-per-game average falling fifth overall in the bubble. No player, not even LeBron James, has a higher net rating (plus-13.1) or plus/minus (plus-9.7) than Davis.

    Following in the footsteps of Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and other Lakers legends, Davis is cementing himself as one of the team's best playoff bigs of all time.     

1st-Team Forward: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 20.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 46.1 FG%, 36.4 minutes, plus-3.9

    Team Record: 11-3 (and counting)

    Jimmy Butler held off Jayson Tatum for first-team honors, even if his production hasn't matched that of the Celtics star.

    But an 11-3 record can't be overlooked, nor can a dismantling of the No. 1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. Butler has proved he can turn it on offensively when the team needs him to (40 points in a Game 1 win over Milwaukee) while also letting others take over at times as well.

    It's no coincidence that Miami has taken on a tough, defensive-minded, no-fear attitude, one that Butler has displayed for years and now has the Heat on the brink of the NBA Finals.

    The Heat are outscoring opponents by 55 points with Butler on the floor this postseason, and his outplaying reigning NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo was something nearly everyone outside of the Miami locker room didn't see coming.           

1st-Team Guard: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 25.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 54.1 FG%, 34.7 minutes, plus-8.4

    Team Record: 11-3 (and counting)

    LeBron James didn't win regular-season MVP, but he could easily wind up with a different MVP trophy when the Lakers' payoff trip is complete.

    One of two players coming close to averaging a triple-double, James has once again dominated in every facet of the game at age 35, and the Lakers have used him to help contain Jamal Murray at the end of games in the conference finals series against the Nuggets.

    The Lakers have a 115.8 offensive rating with James on the floor, and his net rating (plus-12.3) ranks second only to teammate Anthony Davis.

    With L.A. just one game from the Finals, James could soon be making his 10th championship appearance, a mark that would tie him with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for third-most all-time.  

1st-Team Guard: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Playoff Stats Per Game: 26.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 51.0 FG%, 39.4 minutes, plus-1.1

    Team Record: 9-9 (and counting)

    Murray has arguably been the most impressive player this postseason, going from a 18.5 points-per-game scorer in the regular season to one who's dropped 40 or more four times in the playoffs already.

    The star guard is showing his scoring ability from all levels, from acrobatic finishes at the rim to a sparkling 46.6 percent mark from three. He's faced some of the league's best defenders (Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Patrick Beverley, Paul George) during the past two rounds and still put up numbers, showing few signs of fatigue 18 games into his postseason.

    Murray is also eighth overall in assists in the bubble, and his average of 39.4 minutes per game ranks fifth.

    With the Nuggets attempting to climb out of their third 3-1 hole, Murray has already established himself as the breakout star of the postseason and one who fully deserves a spot on the all-playoff first team.