The best team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors, had zero players on first team All-NBA. It’s a riddle, for sure. How can the Warriors have the best record in the NBA, be the front runners to win the title without one member on the first team? Lack of respect, perhaps, or just haterade? Or, a third choice. KD missed games and that cost him first team.
The first team usually signifies the five best players of the year, the ones who had the best seasons, the ones who drove their teams to excellence. Voted on the team: James Harden and Russell Westbrook, guards, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, forwards, and Anthony Davis as the center. The point of contention for Warriors fans is Kevin Durant missing out and Kawhi Leonard not. As if to imply, Kawhi is better.
Kevin Durant led the Warriors in scoring, rebounding and blocks. But he only played 62 games. He had a career high in field goal percentage, tied a career high in offensive rebounding, had a career high in defensive rebounding and total rebounding, second highest assist average, career high in blocks, career high offensive rating and second best defensive rating.
“It’s hard to come up with those teams, man. So many players had great seasons. It’s kinda hard to put guys on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd team, ’cause so many guys played well this year. Just grateful to be part of the list. Obviously I feel like I should be a first team player, but it is what it is.” (Kevin Durant)
Complaining isn’t a good look and KD has never been that kind of player anyway. When you are playing in the conference finals, particularly when the choice comes down to Durant and Kawhi, for most outside of Oakland, it’s a toss up. Many writers feel that Kawhi is the second best player in the league because of his defense. First team All-NBA confirms that. Somehow, Durant has slipped in the eyes of many from the second best player in the league to the third and a lot of it has to do with joining a loaded team of shot makers. In a perception is reality way, that is how the Warriors are being punished. But, Kawhi Leonard had a monster year and to drink the Durant got robbed KoolAid is to diminish Kawhi’s accomplishments in 2016-17.
He played 74 games, a career high. Most minutes ever played. Most field goals made, most field goal attempts, most free throws, most free throw attempts, best field goal percentage, most assists, highest point per game.
The Warriors are used to coming in second when it comes to Kawhi. Draymond Green has finished behind Kawhi in Defensive Player of the Year the last two years.
Draymond Green got a little bit hot about how some players are on the (All-NBA) team that score 20 points and their teams don’t have as many wins as the Warriors. Like All-Star selections, wins are irrelevant in All-NBA selections. It isn’t how many wins your team has but what have you done individually. Have you had a career year? All-NBA is about individualism. Bonuses and contract money are attached to the few who get selected. What your team does is low on the judgement scale.
In judging Kawhi and KD, Kawhi is responsible for 14 Spurs wins and KD is responsible for 11 Warriors wins, according to Real Plus-Minus.
“It’s pretty crazy. It’s some guys on there as scorers averaging 20 points and don’t have as near an amount of wins as we have.” (Draymond Green.)
Kawhi was the 5th most impactful NBA player in 2016-17 (Real Plus-Minus) and Durant was 11th. If you want to spin it the way Draymond has, team and only team, than Kawhi had to do more with less. He isn’t playing with Steph or Klay or Durant. There isn’t a second scorer; LaMarcus Aldridge has the Dwight Howard flu most of the time and Pau Gasol is a hundred years old. They depend on old man Manu Ginobli and Jonathan Simmons who wasn’t drafted. It’s not a talent at the rim team as much as the system legitimizing talent team.
If Durant was with the Thunder he still wouldn’t have made All-NBA first team. This isn’t a conspiracy theory Warrior fans. If the Warriors are being punished, as Dray alludes to, it is because there are so many of them that are exceptional. Some benefits come with hidden costs.
There are a lot of great players at Durant’s position. LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard being two of them. It’s numbers and the eye test. The real test though is what happens in June. The one holding the trophy is the real All-NBA team.