James Harden, G, Rockets
Basketball is a game of scoring points and the league has never seen a player so adept at points scoring. Harden is a rare offensive specimen, being able to flat out run an entire offense with the combined court vision and intelligence of a point guard and the scoring and shooting touch of a shooting guard. He led the league in points scoring and points per shot of any player with more than ten field attempts while placing top three in assists per game even in sharing the court with the four-time assist champion Chris Paul. He will more than likely bring home MVP and at the same time land a spot on the First Team All-NBA.
Russell Westbrook, G, Thunder
The league has reached the point that a Westbrook triple-double has become so normalized that we have come to expect feats like averaging one for a second consecutive season from him. A season ago, accomplishing a triple-double average brought him home the MVP yet this year, his name rarely gets mentioned in the conversation. It is, however, more than enough for him to reach the First Team All-NBA.
LeBron James, F, Cavaliers
While the Cavs might have disappointed to varying degrees depending on the outlook, James continues to prove why he rivals Michael Jordan as the greatest, at least from a numbers standpoint, that is. At the ripe old age of 33, he played in all 82 games for the first time while putting up 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, and a career-high 9.1 assists per game. Only two players (Russell Westbrook twice, Oscar Robertson five times) have ever put up these numbers and neither were even close to accomplishing them at 33. With a season like this, James should have run away with the MVP this season, held only back by the precariously stupid voter fatigue that continues to spite him. The All-NBA voters should be a lot kinder.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks
Giannis only gets increasingly more talented, more exciting, and more dynamic with every passing season. This year, the meteoric rise only continued to ascend after an explosive first month (33.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game) that set up a hefty “Giannis for MVP” bandwagon. Even though he slowed down just a tad as the season went on, his wildly unique skill set and the whole “pulling the Bucks to the playoffs in spite of the head coaching turmoil” thing puts his name among the best in the league.
Anthony Davis, C, Pelicans
Once DeMarcus Cousins’ season had been ended with a brutal Achilles rupture, the Anthony Davis show began. With questions surrounding his ability to take his team to the next level or even hold on to a playoff spot, he put up ridiculous averages of 30.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and 3.1 blocks per game over the final 30 games to drag the Pelicans to a 20-13 record, including a 10 game win streak that essentially salvaged a playoff spot in the crowded West. After seasons of seemingly untapped potential cursed by injuries and playoff disappointment, Davis had a breakout season in his own right, remarkable in its impeccable timing and sheer domination.
Damian Lillard, G, Trail Blazers
There is a level of offensive domination that only an angry Lillard could accomplish and after multiple seasons of being snubbed, rebuffed, and counted out, we all had front row seats to angry Lillard this season. He absolutely drove the Trail Blazers to the third seed in a bloodbath Western conference to the tune of 26.9 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.5 rebounds a night. Few players own such a competitive spirit as Lillard does and it would be a crying shame if he didn’t land Second Team honors.
Victor Oladipo, G, Pacers
After pretty unsuccessful bouts with the Thunder and Magic, the Indiana product finally found where the hat is. Oladipo had a breakout year with Indiana, putting up 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.4 steals a night while yanking a Pacers team the league seemed to count out of the playoffs entirely to the fifth seed, only two wins below the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers. He will almost certainly be a lock for Most Improved and All-NBA honors.
Kevin Durant, F, Warriors
It seemed as if this season the chips fell into place for a Durant-helmed Warriors. Before, there was an air of pandering towards Durant, spoiling him as if his teammates feared he would leave in the case of a bad game. But this season with Curry struggling with injuries, Durant naturally took over primary offensive responsibilities, scoring 26.4 points a night on 51.6 percent shooting. Because of Durant’s continued offensive greatness and an underrated defensive presence, the Warriors continue to soar in spite of the injury plague this season.
LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Spurs
The fact the Spurs qualified for the playoffs in the West without Kawhi Leonard is a testament to the brilliance of Gregg Popovich and his ability to extract the best out of his players. LaMarcus Aldridge enjoyed a nice comeback season after receiving the keys to free reign of the offense. Averaging 23.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks a night, he delivered his finest season as a Spur and lugged a senior-laden Spurs team to the seventh seed. Considering San Antonio’s relative success, he should find his way to an All-NBA team.
Joel Embiid, C, 76ers
Embiid may have only appeared in 63 games but that was more than enough for him to prove himself the future of the big man. He could score (22.9 points on 48.3% shooting), rebound (11.0 rebounds per game), he even has a developing three-point shot, hitting at a 30.8% clip. With the lovable charisma and genuine skill at the center position, whether in the post or really anywhere on the court, Embiid has to wind up on an All-NBA team.
DeMar DeRozan, G, Raptors
His scoring and usage may have been slightly clipped but the Raptors mightily improved due to his smoother efficiency and shooting. He increased his effective field goal percentage and added an actual three-point shot, albeit a little rocky. Not to mention his heightened his playmaking abilities due to the Raptors adopting a more team-centric style. And considering Toronto cruised their way to the first seed in the East, DeRozan should avoid being snubbed for All-NBA honors.
Ben Simmons, G, 76ers
It may have (technically) been his rookie year but Simmons quickly emerged into one of the most versatile players in the entire game in only a single season. With sweeping averages of 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds, Simmons is the closest individual we have ever seen to Magic Johnson. Blessed with reality-bending court vision and passing touch, his ability to facilitate an offense, especially at his youthful age, is nearly unmatched in the league. Due to the 76ers rapid ascension in large part of his play, Simmons should secure All-NBA honors.
Paul George, F, Thunder
After making a career of carrying the Pacers, George wound up playing tandem to former MVP Russell Westbrook. And no player could be more adept at playing alongside a ball-dominant freak like Westbrook. Shooting a strong 61.5 spot-up effective shooting percentage, he slid in perfectly into the lineup. And including his continued shutdown defender attributes and the Thunder’s success, he will be a lock for an All-NBA spot.
Khris Middleton, F, Bucks
To say a team that placed seventh in the East deserves two All-NBA recipients feel misguided but Middleton had a deceptively stellar season. Going for 20.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, a game on 57.7 percent true shooting, Middleton continues to cement himself as one of the most efficient players in the league. While the Bucks themselves underachieved, Middleton put up a career year nearly worth All-NBA recognition.
Andre Drummond, C, Pistons
Detroit might have been a general disaster this season but no fault of any of it lies on the league rebound champion Andre Drummond. The classic center position is slowly dying out but Drummond continues to stubbornly turn back the clock in the paint, averaging more rebounds than he does points. This is only made more impressive by considering his 15.0 points per game on 53 percent shooting is handily impressive. Heck, he vastly improved his free throw percentage, going from 38 percent to 60.5 percent. While he may be more of a niche name without a lot behind him, the numbers back up his All-NBA bid.