Monday, April 13, 2015

All-NBA 2014-15

All-NBA status = stardom
In our opinion, All-NBA teams should recognize the player's total production, defense, and the individual's team success. This year, we tried to use a formula that ranked each of those three categories. "Total production" seems the most important to me. Some players missed chunks of games due to injury, and that should be accounted for when trying to decide who is worthy of being an All-NBA performer any given year. 

We went to great lengths to decide our first through third team selections. We started with 57 players trying to get down to the top 15. After a first look, 13 guys were eliminated as candidates, leaving us with 44 players vying for 15 spots. 

We valued total production (our efficiency rating, multiplied by number of minutes played) as 60% of our formula. The best measure for defense is the Defensive Rating stat. But because Defensive Rating is greatly influenced by a player's teammates, it was weighted at just 20%. The remaining 20% weight went to the number of wins a player's team has. 

The results were eye-opening. Some of the players you would expect to be at or near the top were not there. Others who were overlooked as recently as the NBA All-Star Game, we realized, could make a strong case for All-NBA status. 

Ultimately we used the data to help inform us. But the final decision was not just about the results of the formula. As always, we believe you have to consider the data but also consider your own common sense, and feel for who has impacted the NBA and their team enough to deserve All-NBA honors. 

Please understand that these 15 players who we ultimately decided to go with are not necessarily the 15 players we would want if we were building a team. This is not about "upside" or the future. These first through third team All-NBA selections are instead SOLELY related to this 2014-15 season and who we think impacted the league at each position with their overall play. 
Curry should be MVP

All-NBA First Team: Stephen Curry, James Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol. 

The picks of Curry and Harden are no-brainers. Lebron as the small-forward is also pretty easy. While I would like to see Anthony Davis have a bigger impact on defense, I also think it is fairly simple to name him as the First-Team power-forward. The shocker in our formula was that DeAndre Jordan, Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol came out in a near dead-heat in the battle for First-Team Center. Presently, the Clippers and Grizzlies both have the same number of wins (54), while the Bulls trail with 48 wins. Jordan has yet to miss a game. He leads the NBA in both rebounding (14.8 per game!) and field goal percentage (70%!). But Marc Gasol has the better Defensive Rating among the trio, and that was the tie-breaker for me. 

All-NBA Second Team: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook,  Kawhi Leonard, Pau Gasol, DeAndre Jordan.  

The Second Team backcourt of Paul and Westbrook seemed easy to decipher. Westbrook missed 15 games for OKC which is why he fell to Second-Team status. The next three positions really have no correct answer. The NBA landscape at small-forward went through some undulations in the 2014-15 season. Usually, Kevin Durant is a shoe-in for All-NBA but he was injured. Ditto Paul George. Carmelo Anthony's team was pitiful. ...After considering Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson (a shooting guard), and Draymond Green, we decided on Kawhi. Leonard is the next best small forward choice even though he missed 18 games this season. Leonard's "two-way" ability, and the Spurs success, is enough for him to edge out the rest in our opinion. The two BIGs on the Second Team are Pau Gasol, and Jordan. 

All-NBA Third-Team: John Wall, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan.

The Third-Team shocker is Draymond Green. Again, we doubt he will earn many votes but it says here that he should. Green has been one of, if not the best, defender in the NBA this season (we chose him as the NBA Defensive Player of the Year). His team has 65 wins and although he did spend most of his minutes playing power forward for the Warriors, he often operates in a small-forward-like capacity (he shoots .338 from deep, and has a better than two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio). ...Tim Duncan is often overlooked. Some say he plays limited minutes too often. Well consider this... Duncan is approaching 2200 minutes (2193 mins.) this season and that is more minutes played than DeMarcus Cousins (2013 minutes played). Duncan is one of eight players in our study of 44 that has a Defensive Rating under 100 (the lower the number, the better). He is also one of eight in our study of 44 guys that has an "EFR" of over .700 (the higher, the better). 

Who was close that deserves careful consideration for All-NBA? Among BIGs it is Al Horford, Cousins, Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin, and Zach Randolph. Perimeter players who nearly made it included Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving (his poor defensive rating turned me off big time), Eric Bledsoe, and Jeff Teague. 

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