Is Julius Randle All-NBA worthy?

As the NBA season comes to a close, now is the time when players are analyzed to determine if they are All-NBA worthy. This season is unlike any other (a phrase that has been repeated this season 6 billion times), so picking players for All-NBA teams is tougher than ever. But I’ll do my best!

What are my determining factors for which players make the cut, and which don’t you ask? Player statistics (obviously), impact on team, dominance, and games played. Some of my picks for the All-NBA third team would be on the All-NBA first team, but they haven’t played enough so I can’t rank them higher than others. Some players won’t make the cut even though they are superstars but just haven’t done anything special. (*cough* Jayson Tatum cough*).

Two guards, two forwards, and a center is the criteria for an All-NBA team. So for the All-NBA third team, my picks are Russell Westbrook, Donovan Mitchell, Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant, and Rudy Gobert. 

Russell Westbrook hasn’t had the best statistical season from an advanced analytics standpoint, but we’ve come to expect that from the ball of energy that is Russell Westbrook. Last week he set the record for most career triple-doubles, and that officially stamped his ticket to the NBA Hall of Fame. This may be a hot take, actually, this is a hot take, who cares about triple-doubles? It’s impressive that he’s had so many rebounds for a point guard, but who’s asking him to rebound? I know Scott Brooks lets Russ do whatever he wants on the court, that’s evident, but it’s not like the Wizards employ their version of the Death Lineup. The Wizards have Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant, and Daniel Gafford. Russell Westbrook is shorter than all of them by 5+ inches. Westbrook is still one of the fastest players in the league, so when he goes for a rebound and takes the ball up he’s probably wasting 4 seconds or so. But imagine if he went down the court every time and had Bryant throw him the ball for a transition layup. I have a theory, however, which could explain why Westbrook always goes for the rebound. He’s incapable of playing off-ball and having to shoot a catch-and-shoot jumper. It’s no secret Russ can’t shoot threes, and that his jump shot isn’t the best. But other than his patented mid-range jumper that banks in off the glass, what does he have? He isn’t a catch and shoot player, he can’t spot up from deep, he can’t not have the ball in his hands for more than five seconds, but he can make layups. When Russ goes in for a layup he’s running at a minimum speed of 50 miles per hour, which may be a small exaggeration, but it looks like it. So whenever Russ goes for the rebound and gets it, he starts running at max speed and makes an easy transition layup. I believe that Russ believes he’s the greatest player of all time, obviously, that’s not the case, but Russ is insane. What’s Russ going to say when he’s 38, and can’t run like he used to, therefore making transition layups near impossible? Westbrook is a lot like Allen Iverson in the sense that, once his legs go, so does his game. Westbrooks makes his living off of transition layups, and like Iverson, he isn’t a good three-point shooter. His mid-range game is decent when he’s making shots, but what is most of his shots? Transition layups, which give him a sort of confidence to make mid-range jumpers. Different confidence from his usual I’m the greatest player of all time lie he tells himself, which he 100% believes. Russ averages a triple-double along with 22 points, and because of other players being injured, Russ makes the cut. 

Donovan Mitchell is the other guard making the team. Halfway through the season it looked like Mitchell would be making the All-NBA first team, but due to injuries, he’s being bumped down to the third team. Mitchell sports a 26/4/5 line, with a respectable 38% from deep, while shooting 43% overall. Mitchell shot an insane 8.7 threes a game, rounding up that makes, wait let me do the math here, carry the 1, that makes 9 three-point attempts a game. I think that’s a little excessive, but he’s having a career season, so I won’t complain too much. The Jazz were unstoppable, not on fire, not having a good stretch, they were unstoppable. Many people jumped ship from the Lakers and went over to the Jazz. The Jazz currently are in first place and have proved they can play well without Mitchell, which is another reason he’s been bumped to the third team. Hopefully, Spider is motivated by the bump and puts in the extra work this offseason to show Shaq that he is a superstar. 

Zion is the first of the two forwards on this list, proving that when healthy he is a force to be reckoned with. Zion had a lot to prove coming into the season, can he stay healthy? Does he have a jump shot? Can he carry a team to the playoffs? This season he stayed healthy, he doesn’t have a good jump shot, and no he can’t carry a team to the playoffs. But one could blame the Pelicans for not making the playoffs on Stan Van Gundy, actually, I blame Van Gundy. Zion is unstoppable when in the paint, but what about anywhere else on the court? It’s not too pretty, but he’s smart enough to realize that he can’t shoot too well so he hangs out in the paint. There are a lot of Zion doubters who expect him to have a fully developed jump shot, and need zero adjustment time but take a guess who didn’t have a fully developed jump shot and needed some adjustment time. LeBron James. I wouldn’t trust rookie LeBron to make a three if it meant he could retire as the G.O.A.T. Zion’s shot will come, along with his first playoff appearance, he just needs some time. 

Kevin Durant is the last forward to make the All-NBA third team. KD only played in 33 games this season, and only started in 30, but those non-starts were injury and covid related. When he was on the court he was lights out and proved that he is still the same old KD. Durant has a 27/7/5 line, good enough for an appearance on an All-NBA team. If he were to play 60 games this season he would make the first team, but there were stretches where it seemed like KD had retired. The Nets are a superteam full of players that have been injured, or K.I.A. Not killed in action, K.I.A. is Kyrie in action. Meaning at any point in time Kyrie will disappear, and then he will reappear a week later. Durant missed about a month and had many stretches where he missed a week or two. Again, when he was on the court, he was dominant offensively. Defensively he’s not the same since his Achilles injury, but he makes up for it by scoring any way he feels like it. 

Rudy Gobert is the final addition to the All-NBA third team and was part of the final phase to shut down the NBA last year. Gobert has seen a decrease in minutes but has still been productive. Averaging 2.7 blocks, along with 14 points a game, Gobert is bound to make an official All-NBA team, not just a blog one. Gobert is a candidate for defensive player of the year and could steal the award away from Embiid. He is undoubtedly a top 5 center in the league, and in a league where centers are all but irrelevant, Gobert makes the All-NBA third team. 

The All-NBA second team has a lot in common with middle children, often overlooked, and nobody cares. When all the selections are done all people look at is who made the first team, and who got snubbed by being put on the third team. Nonetheless, here are my picks for the second team, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Joel Embiid.

Kyrie Irving is another Nets star who has been off the court seemingly more than on the court. In reality, however, he has played 52 games and has been more than efficient. Irving has a 27/4/6 line, shooting 40% from deep, and 50% from the field. Some might argue that Kyrie deserves to be on the first team over players like Lillard or Luka, but they haven’t disappeared for weeks like Irving. Kyrie is a player that will have Kobe-esque stories, but except the stories aren’t about work ethic, but the time Kyrie traded in a Mercedes for a car fueled by banana peels. He’s a player that doesn’t care what the media says about him. Some people hate him for it, some people respect him, I respect him. However, it’s unacceptable that Kyrie will just leave the team for a week without giving any sort of reason, leaving Steve Nash scrambling to find an excuse. If Kyrie was just a mediocre player, his actions wouldn’t fly, but he’s averaging 27 points so the Nets will put up with him. Kyrie is a top 5 point guard in the NBA, but he has to be on the court more for him to make a bloggers All-NBA first-team list. 

Bradley Beal is the other guard making the list getting bumped for a major award yet again. Beal is having a very efficient scoring year sporting a 31/4/4 line, on 35% shooting from downtown, and 48% for the year. Beal, at the beginning of the year, said the team couldn’t guard a parked car, I say Beal couldn’t guard a parked car. Beal is like the Michael Corleone of offense, but the Fredo of defense. Some people will say he uses all his energy on offense, he doesn’t have enough energy to play defense. That’s a ton of bs, Kobe used all his energy on offense, and then all of his energy on defense. I like Beal and all, but he should only be looked at as an elite scorer, and nothing else. Kind of like Danny Granger. Bradley Beal is a score-first, score second, score third type of player, I hope he adds defense to his arsenal. 

LeBron James makes my All-NBA second team in a pick that is mostly out of respect. I probably could’ve replaced LeBron with Paul George, or even put LeBron on the third team. James has only played 43 games this season, and we saw a tired LeBron. I don’t mean to diss LeBron or anything, but Bron had probably one month off this offseason. He’s played into July almost every year in his career, and now we’re seeing the older version of LeBron. The older version of LeBron is still dominant, but plays off the ball more, and plays the role of coach. James is single-handedly outsmarting coaches during games, Spoelstra said after the Finals that James made adjustments on their adjustments. In the 43 games James played he averaged 25/8/7, shooting a respectable 36% from deep, and 51% overall. Those are great numbers for a player in his 18th season, numbers that only LeBron could put up. But because he didn’t play a lot of the season, and took it easy to save himself for the playoffs, I have to put LeBron on the second team. 

Kawhi Leonard is being snubbed by me for being put on the second team, and not the first. You’ll see later on who I put on the first team instead of him, and your head will spin, but for now, here’s a breakdown of Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is having a great season showing that the crushing loss in the playoffs last year didn’t phase him. My question is, what does phase Kawhi Leonard? His face never changes, ever. He has the same facial expression all the time, and it scares me. Once Kawhi retires we will never hear from him again. Every time the wind blows in LA after Kawhi retires, fans will faintly hear Kawhi’s laugh. Anyway, his stats are amazing sporting a 24/6/5 line, shooting 39% from three, and 51% overall. Kawhi’s defense has been out of this world, which is where I think Kawhi is from. He is showing off his crisp jump shot, and his gritty side on defense. His play this year is the reason the Clippers are in fourth place and have a legitimate shot at making the Finals this year. 

Joel Embiid is being bogged down to the All-NBA second team because Nikola Jokic has proven he is the more complete player. By the way, I think I’m the first person to use the word bogged down since 1925, yay me, I guess. Embiid was the MVP of the first half of the season, but once Murray got hurt, everyone knew Jokic was about to become the MVP. Embiid still has a shot at becoming the MVP, but injuries have played a major factor in his not being the MVP. Embiid is flashing a 28/10/2 line, shooting an impressive 37% from three, and 51% overall. If he were to have played 15 more games, I would pick Embiid as the MVP, but he’s only played 51 games so far. Embiid still has a shot at winning DPOY, but will most likely lose to Gobert, or his teammate Ben Simmons. Embiid has had some great games this season that have had people think, “Wow, he’s special.” But lack of games played, and Jokic being the more complete player, makes me put Embiid on my second team. 

Now to the premier moment, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. My picks for the All-NBA first team, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, Julius Randle, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic. 

Steph Curry at this moment is most likely going to win the scoring title, and grab a few MVP votes. This truly was a great, “f u” season by a player. Up there with Paul George this season, Westbrook’s MVP season, Kobe Bryant from 2005-2008, and LeBron James in 2012-2013. Everyone had the thought in the back of their mind, “Is Curry going to be the same?” The answer is yes, and then some, and then a little bit more. Curry is averaging 31/5/5 which is insane, what is more, insane is his three-point percentage. 42% from three-point range, which is disgustingly efficient, this season finally put an end to the debate who’s the better shooter, Ray Allen or Steph Curry? It’s Curry by a long shot. Curry is shooting 48% overall and has shown that he is still as efficient as ever. Steph has carried the Warriors to the play-in games and has shown that he is the most valuable player to any team in the game. Curry is making Juan Toscano-Anderson look like a good player, and saving Kerr’s legacy as a coach. Steph is without a doubt the most entertaining player in the league when he hits a deep three, and Mike Breen yells, “Bang!” The sport as a whole benefit. 

Luka Doncic almost didn’t make my list controversially, but I decided to bump Dame entirely to make room for Luka. At the beginning of the year, Donic was out of shape, playing poorly, and complaining to the refs every other play. But he got back in shape, played excellently, and his complaining has decreased. Luka is averaging 28/8/8, on 35% from deep, and 47% overall. The Mavericks would be a lottery pick team if it weren’t for Luka, and he has shown his ability to carry a team to the playoffs. Who’s his number two? Porzingis? Hardaway Jr.? The answer is Boban, if you didn’t say Boban you have a problem. Porzingis just hasn’t played good basketball, he’s 7 feet tall, GET IN THE PAINT! I don’t care if you can shoot threes, every team goes small, get in the paint, and score an easy two. Porzingis’s unwillingness to change his ways has put the weight of the team on Doncic. Luka needs to be more efficient from three-point range, but I chalk his poor percentage up to his early-season slump. “Luka Magic” is real, and if the Mavs win one playoff series this year, it will become “Luka Mania.”

I know this is the most shocking pick of them all, but I do believe Julius Randle has been a top 10 player in the NBA this season. I’ll admit I am a Knicks fan, but I hated the move to get Julius Randle, and until this season I was right. I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong by a player, Julius Randle has been a lot of fun to watch. Randle is averaging 24/10/6, 41% from three-point range, and shooting 45% overall. Last year Randle shot 27% from downtown and was a career 33% shooter from beyond the arc. This year he’s shooting 41%, one percentage down from Steph Curry. Randle has been the Knicks MVP this year and is Tibby’s dream player. Randle has played a huge part in getting the Knicks to the playoffs, and as all great players do, elevates the players around him. RJ has had the opposite of sophomore slump, Rose is having a career renaissance, and Randle has made Tibby look like a coach of the year candidate. Randle in my view has played better than Kawhi, and Randle is a sure shot for the most improved player of the year award. The Knicks needed Randle, and Randle needed the Knicks, what a perfect match. 

I almost didn’t put Giannis Antetokounmpo on an All-NBA team because at the beginning of the year looked really bad. He couldn’t make a free throw to save his life, he was playing passive, and the Bucks were suffering. Things seemed to turn around two weeks before the all-star game, for which he won MVP. He started to run full steam into the defense again and was passing the ball when teams used, “the wall” strategy. Giannis is averaging 28/11/6, shooting 30% from downtown, and 57% overall. Those are some really good numbers, and this is one of my biggest pet peeves of all time. Why will the people who vote for the MVP not give the award to the best player? It seems like the voters will only vote for a player to win MVP twice in their careers, and then drop them from contention after they have an MVP already. One could make the argument that Giannis is the MVP, but because he already has two he will never win an MVP again. The Bucks have a good chance of making the Eastern Conference Finals, and I think that Budenholzer could outcoach Nash any day of the week. It comes down to how Giannis will cover Kevin Durant, switch onto Harden or Irving, and contain Griffin. Giannis has to live up to playoff expectations, but I’m not too hard on him because there was another superstar that couldn’t get over the hump. That superstar was LeBron James, bombshell (mic drop), booyah! 

Nikola Jokic is the final player I selected to make the All-NBA first team and is most likely going to win the MVP. The Joker has been unbelievable this season, slashing a 26/11/8 line, shooting 39% from three, and 56% overall. A seven-footer is shooting 39% from three-point range, that’s unprecedented. Jokic has been more than efficient this season elevating the Nuggets to a perennially good team, to championship contenders. He’s one of the best passers in the league, one of the best rebounders, and sports one of the best impressions of a human I’ve ever seen. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Jokic is being controlled by an alien, his mannerisms look like an alien impersonating a human. When he pleads to the referee to contest a foul call, he does this weird thing with his hands like he’s praying, but his fingers are sort of bent downwards, it’s strange. Nonetheless, Jokic is going to win the MVP this year and has proved that he is the best center in the league. 

Well, that’s all I have for my picks for the All-NBA teams, see ya!

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