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Thursday, May 14, 2009

James, Bryant Top All-NBA Voting

LeBron James, the landslide winner of the 2009 MVP award, was the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA First Team, receiving all 122 votes from a panel of writers and broadcasters. Kobe Bryant, who finished second in MVP voting, received 119 First Team votes and three Second Team votes. Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki are the other First Team members. Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, Yao Ming, Chris Paul and Brandon Roy made the Second Team, while the Third Team consists of Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, Shaquille O'Neal, Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups.

The official balloting largely matched my choices: I selected exactly the same First Team and the only difference with the Second Team is that I picked Gasol over Pierce, who I put on the Third Team. My Third Team also included David West instead of Anthony; choosing West over Anthony may not look correct in light of Anthony's performance in the playoffs but keep in mind that this honor is strictly based on the regular season and that West matched or increased his All-Star numbers from the 2008 season while again playing in 76 games but Anthony only played in 66 games and experienced marked drops in his scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage.

The All-NBA players are supposed to be chosen by position (with no distinction made between small forward and power forward or shooting guard and point guard, which is why Chris Paul landed on the Second Team even though he placed in the top five in the MVP race). However, it is obvious that the voters did not adhere to that guideline. Dwight Howard received 116 First Team votes and Yao Ming received eight First Team votes, so 122 voters combined to produce 124 First Team votes at the center position; that means that Howard and/or Yao received votes at the forward position, which is simply bizarre because neither player ever plays forward. Since the First Team has two guard slots and two forward slots, each of those positions should have received 244 First Team votes (122 voters multiplied by two), but James (122), Nowitzki (35), Duncan (39), Pierce (27), Gasol (2) and Anthony (2) received a total of 227 First Team votes as forwards while Bryant (116), Wade (103), Paul (32) and Parker (1) received a total of 255 First Team votes as guards. None of those forwards could realistically be considered guards nor could any of those guards realistically be considered forwards. It is hard to figure out what exactly some of these voters were thinking about when they made their First Team choices.

If you add up all of the First Team votes the total is 606 but 122 voters voting for five First Team slots should add up to 610 First Team votes. So, the NBA press release either contains some clerical errors or four First Team votes were not submitted or not tabulated, in addition to the positional designation mistakes; the total points awarded to all players who received any votes correctly adds up to 5490 (122 voters selected 15 players each on a 5-3-1 basis), so the most likely explanation is that some of the players who are listed under the category "also received votes" divided up the "missing" First Team votes even though the press release does not specify who received those First Team votes. This is not the first time that there have been discrepancies with the All-NBA Team voting; in 2007 I noted that the All-NBA Selections Don't Add Up and I made some suggestions about how the voting should have been done.

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:45 AM

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