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Friday, May 11, 2007

All-NBA Selections Don't Add Up

The voting for the 2006-07 All-NBA Team does not add up--literally. In case you missed it, here are the members of the three All-NBA Teams:

First Team (1st place votes).....Points

Forward: Dirk Nowitzki, Dal (125).....634
Forward: Tim Duncan, SaS (94).........573
Center: Amare Stoudemire, Phx (36)....351
(note: the original NBA press release listed this number as 494)
Guard: Steve Nash, Phx (129)..........645
Guard: Kobe Bryant, LAL (128).........643

Second Team

Forward: LeBron James, Cle (64).......494
Forward: Chris Bosh, Tor (8)..........234
Center: Yao Ming, Hou (38)............333
Guard: Gilbert Arenas, Was (0)........295
Guard: Tracy McGrady, Hou (10)........278

Third Team

Forward: Kevin Garnett, Min (5).......225
Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Den (1).....142
Center: Dwight Howard, Orl (1)........108
Guard: Dwyane Wade, Mia (1)...........241
Guard: Chauncey Billups, Det (0).......86

The voting panel consisted of 129 members of the media. Players received five points for each First Team vote, three points for each Second Team vote and one point for each Third Team vote. Two players received some First Team votes but did not have enough overall points to make any of the three teams: Miami's Shaquille O'Neal (3) and Denver's Marcus Camby (2). Based on the scoring system and the point totals provided by the NBA it is possible to figure out the vote breakdown for several of the players. The voting was supposedly done by position but that is clearly not the case.

Nash was the only unanimous First Team selection, while Bryant received 128 First Team votes and one Second Team vote. In theory, that should mean that there was only one other First Team vote at guard--but McGrady got 10 and Wade got one, which means that some voters either disregarded positional considerations or else slotted McGrady (or Bryant or Wade) at forward. Matters are even more confused in the frontcourt. Nowitzki received 125 First Team votes at forward and apparently got three Second Team votes and was left off of one ballot entirely (which makes no sense; the voting was done before the playoffs and anyone who thinks that Nowitzki was not among the league's six best forwards this season is smoking crack). Duncan received 94 First Team votes, 34 Second Team votes and one Third Team vote. That means that there should be 39 more First Team votes spread among various forwards--but James got 64, Bosh got 10, Garnett got five and Anthony got one; in other words, 41 extra votes were cast for forwards. Meanwhile, center got the short end of the stick. Amare Stoudemire made the First Team with 494 points and 36 First Team votes, while Yao Ming got more First Team votes (38) than Stoudemire did but only had 333 points. Assuming that O'Neal and Camby were considered centers that still leaves a shortfall of 50 First Team votes at center.

It is easy to figure out how all of this happened: Yao missed 34 games and O'Neal missed 42 games, so some voters left them off of their ballots entirely, while others simply looked at those players' production in the games that they played. If you disregarded Yao and O'Neal because of the games that they missed then you were basically left with Stoudemire, Camby, Howard or Ben Wallace, none of whom had better seasons than Nowitzki, Duncan or James. I am guessing that the ballot does not stipulate which position to put players in, so some voters simply slid Duncan or Nowitzki to center. The end result is that the true center who received the most First Team votes (Yao) ended up on the Second Team, while Stoudemire ended up on the First Team even though James had the same number of points and many more First Team votes. The NBA should have either officially assigned positions to the various players when ballots were sent out or should have put James on the First Team in a tie with Stoudemire since they ended up with the same number of points. It is pretty obvious that some voters put players at different positions than others did which means that, in a sense, they were not really voting on the same issue. Duncan, Nowitzki and Stoudemire are all "bigs," which means that there is no true small forward on the First Team; it makes more sense to put the consensus picks for the two best "bigs" on the First Team alongside James then to put Stoudemire as one of the top five players in the league when it is doubtful that many of the voters would agree with that (as demonstrated by the fact that he did not even receive the most First Team votes at center anyway).

My All-NBA Teams this year would be:

First Team

F Nowitzki
F James
C Duncan
G Bryant
G Nash

I think that there is a general consensus that these were the five best players in the NBA this season, even if there is heated disagreement over how they should be ranked in MVP balloting.

Second Team

F Carlos Boozer, UTA
F Bosh
C Stoudemire
G McGrady
G Jason Kidd, NJN

Boozer had the most points (127) of anyone who did not make the official three All-NBA Teams but I think that he actually deserved a Second Team spot. I prefer Kidd's overall floor game to Arenas' shoot from all angles approach.

Third Team

F Garnett
F Shawn Marion, PHX
C Ben Wallace, CHI
G Arenas
G Allen Iverson, DEN

I prefer Marion to Anthony for the same reason that I prefer Kidd to Arenas; Anthony would make my "Fourth Team." Wallace had an impact on a 49 win team, while Howard's game is still a bit one dimensional for my taste; Howard would battle with Camby for my "Fourth Team" center. Did you know that Iverson shot better from the field than Billups and averaged slightly more assists? Apparently the voters did not know, either. Put Billups on my "Fourth Team" as well.

Shaq, Yao and Wade did not play enough games, in my opinion; I don't have a hard and fast rule regarding that, but 40, 48 and 51 respectively are not even close--I think that an All-NBA player (or MVP) should play in at least 65-70 games, though I could see voting for someone who played in 60 games if that player set some major individual records or was the dominant player on a very, very successful team. If a player misses more than a fourth of the season then whatever value he provided cannot equal the impact of other great players who played a more complete schedule.

posted by David Friedman @ 3:13 AM



At Friday, May 11, 2007 3:57:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

my first team duncan, james, kobe, nowitzki, nash, 2nd team arenas, boozer, mcgrady,stoudamire, wade, 3rd team billups, iverson, anthony, yao ming, j kidd thats my opion there voting system is weird because who plays what position nowadays so many versatile players

At Friday, May 11, 2007 6:13:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

yep, the all-nba team voting is strange indeed.

have to agree with David here, you really should be playing a certain amount of games to be counted, and they really should be sticking to assigned positions.

if they aren't doing that, they should go full hog, and just voted in the top 15 players regardless of position (itd be interesting to see how this would compare against the top 15 in the MVP vote!)

At Friday, May 11, 2007 6:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Your three teams are pretty similar to mine but I'd boot Yao and Wade because they did not play in enough games.

I agree that the positional designations are becoming pretty blurred. I don't think that they should be completely abandoned, though, so I would not put three guards on my Third Team like you did with Billups, Iverson and Kidd. I think that each team should have two "bigs" (center/power forward), a small forward and two guards. You can fudge a little in certain cases but I would not go with three guys who clearly play the same position; your three Third Team guards are too small to play up front, even if Kidd does sometimes guard LeBron.

At Friday, May 11, 2007 6:28:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I am also interested to compare the MVP voting with the All-NBA voting; I seriously doubt that Amare will get nearly as many MVP votes as LeBron. Preliminary reports suggest that Dirk will win, Nash will be second and Kobe will be third. I'm guessing that LeBron and Duncan will be next and everyone else will be pretty far behind that quintet. I don't think that Amare will be the next player behind that group.


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