Predicting the 2013-14 All-NBA teams
SI.com’s NBA team will be rolling out predictions as we count down to the start of the 2013-14 season, which is now officially less than one week away.
Here, Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward take a crack at predicting the 2014 All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams, while also listing a handful of candidates who just missed out.
The All-NBA teams are voted on by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The selections below represent The Point Forward’s best guess as to which players will win the award, not necessarily the players we feel will be the most deserving.
The Point Forward Predicts 2014 All-NBA First Team
G: Chris Paul, Clippers | No. 3 on SI.com’s Top 100 Players of 2014
All-NBA: First Team (2008, 2012, 2013), Second (2009), Third (2011)
It was strange to hear Paul say this week that he envisions himself retiring “a little early” because the 2013-14 season has all the makings of a high-water mark for his career. There’s plenty of time for the future in the future. Right now, Paul, 28, is squarely in his prime and surrounded by one of the NBA’s deepest and most exciting rosters. That he plays for a big-market team that has managed to grasp top billing in Los Angeles certainly doesn’t hurt his case when it comes to awards like this. Widely regarded as the most complete point guard in the game, Paul has ascended to a consensus pick as the No. 3 player in the league this offseason, and he’s a First Team shoo-in as long as he enjoys good health. Watching Doc Rivers guide Paul as he seeks to fill in the glaring gap in his postseason résumé is just one of this season’s many intriguing subplots.
G: Derrick Rose, Bulls | No. 12 on SI.com’s Top 100 Players of 2014
All-NBA: First Team (2011)
The 2011 MVP has been busy this month, using Chicago’s preseason slate to provide strong answers to the many questions and doubts that arose after he missed the entire 2012-13 season as he recovered from a knee injury. In his last three exhibition contests, Rose, 25, has scored 78 points in 80 minutes while shooting 62 percent from the floor. He’s dropped defenders with his crossover and finished plays above the rim, and he’s generally looked like he made the most of his 18-month rehabilitation. Had SI.com’s Top 100 Players of 2014 list been crafted after the preseason, there’s a good chance Rose would have been pushing for a spot in the top-five. Simply put, Rose at 100 percent health is as good as any guard in the league, and the Bulls won an outstanding 78.3 percent of the regular season games in which Rose played from 2010-12. If Chicago heads for a 55+ win season as many expect, the “comeback” narrative will land Rose a First Team spot easily, and perhaps even find him in the MVP conversation.
F: LeBron James, Heat | No. 1 on SI.com’s Top 100 Players of 2014
All-NBA: First Team (2006, 2008-2013), Second (2005, 2007)
No matter your favorite advanced statistics poison — Player Efficiency Rating, Win Shares, Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus — James led the league last year, and there’s nothing stopping him from doing it all over again in 2013-14. At 28, he’s a strong candidate to win both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards, and he would undoubtedly win his third straight Finals MVP if the Heat complete their three-peat, as the oddsmakers expect. James’ buddy Jay-Z once rhymed: “Seven straight summers, critics might not admit it, but nobody in rap did it, quite like I did it.” Barring catastrophic injury, the back-to-back MVP is a lock to make his seventh straight All-NBA First Team. We’re so fully immersed in the LeBron Era now that the real question is how many years will it take for someone to unseat him from the First Team. Could it be… another seven?
F: Kevin Durant, Thunder |No. 2 on SI.com’s Top 100 Players of 2014
All-NBA: First Team (2010-2013)
The Thunder’s 25-year-old forward appears eager to get back on the court following a summer that began earlier than expected. Time flies, and Durant is already entering his seventh season, having spent the last four years steadily climbing from “great scorer” to “elite player” to “the best on the planet not named LeBron James.” Although he used the “James Harden vs. Dwyane Wade” debate as his foil, Durant’s “pass the torch” message is really just an extension of his earlier “I’m sick of second” declaration: He’s more than ready to live in an NBA world that isn’t quite so Heat-centric. Without Russell Westbrook to start the season, Durant will get to flex his leadership and shooting muscles early on. Would that showcase period plus, say, a No. 1 seed in the Western Conference be enough to finally get Durant over the LBJ hump when it comes to the MVP voting?
C: Dwight Howard, Rockets | No. 7 on SI.com’s Top 100 Players of 2014
All-NBA: First Team (2008-2012), Third (2007, 2013)
Injuries and a non-alpha role with the Lakers rightfully cost Howard, 27, his First Team slot last year. Both problems now appear solved: Howard is healthy, and he’s embarking on a partnership with James Harden that should be devastating to opposing defenses. Even in his limited capacity in 2012-13, Howard led the NBA in rebounding for the fifth time in six seasons, and his addition should bump Houston up several notches on the defensive efficiency charts and in the standings. After he disappointed in L.A. and left the Lakers hanging, no one in the league has more to prove than Howard. He meets that challenge with physical tools that few players, if any, can match. The Rockets organization did its part setting the table for Howard, and now it’s his turn to reestablish his position as the league’s most dominant interior force.