All-NBA Second Team features players worthy of recognition of official basketball stardom.
These are elite players in the league, and I tried to do my due diligence with choosing who I thought was worthy of the distinction. Here’s the link to my First Team selections so there’s some added context to my thought process.
Westbrook was the only point guard in the league to average over 20 points per game and over 10 assists per game. His 18 triple doubles lead the league as he continued to raise eyebrows around the league with his incredible athleticism. He was 2nd in the league in Box Plus/Minus, 2nd in Offensive Box Plus/Minus, 2nd in Value Over Replacement Player, 2nd in Offensive Real Plus-Minus, 3rd in Player Efficiency Rating, 3rd in Win Shares, 4th in Offensive Win Shares, 4th in Real Plus-Minus WINS, 4th in Value Added, tied for 4th in Estimated Wins Added, and 6th in Real Plus-Minus. Specifically for point guards, he ranked 1st in Defensive Box Plus/Minus and 2nd in Defensive Win Shares. His 2.04 steals per game was good for 5th in the league, cementing him as an influential defensive player as well. Had Stephen Curry not had such a remarkable season, Westbrook would have been a lock for First Team honors, but since this is Curry’s league and everyone else is just playing in it, Westbrook is relegated to the still incredible second-tier status.
DeRozan lead the Toronto Raptors to their best season in franchise history while establishing himself as an elite scorer. He ranked 8th in the NBA in points per game with 23.5, which served as a career high for him. Only 3 players made more 2 point field goals this season than DeRozan. James Harden was the only player to make more free throws than DeRozan, illustrating his ability to get to the line and deliver his team points whenever they needed it. DeRozan ranked 10th in the league in Offensive Win Shares, and the metrics separated him as clearly the most potent shooting guard in the league besides Harden. For shooting guards specifically, DeRozan ranked 2nd in Player Efficiency Rating, 2nd in Value Added, 2nd in Estimated Wins Added, and 2nd in Win Shares. The gap between Harden and DeRozan might be sizable, but he comes the closest of any of his peers to providing the type of output Harden does.
Like his teammate Westbrook, Durant had the numbers to warrant a First Team nod, but with so many fantastic seasons of other players that he had to compete with, Durant has to settle for placement on the Second Team. He ranked 3rd in the league in points per game with 28.2 and filled up the stat sheet on a daily basis. He averaged 8.2 rebounds per game and 5.0 assists per game, living up to his reputation as an offensive force. He also averaged a steal and a block per game on defense to show off his well-rounded skills on the court. Ever the fundamentally sound player, Durant was 3rd in free throw percentage and got to the line the 7th most times in the league, cashing in on numerous scoring opportunities to help the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant ranked 2nd in the league in Player Efficiency Rating, 2nd in Win shares, 2nd in Offensive Win Shares, 3rd in True Shooting Percentage, tied for 4th in Estimated Wins Added, 5th in Value Added, 5th in Offensive Real Plus-Minus, 5th in Value Over Replacement Player, 5th in Box Plus/Minus, 5th in Offensive Box Plus/Minus, 6th in Offensive Rating, 8th in Real Plus-Minus, and 9th in Real Plus-Minus WINS. Durant remains one of the truly transcendent players in the NBA.
His importance is best displayed on the defensive end, as he’s the most versatile defender in the NBA. Like his peer Kawhi Leonard, his offensive development is what solidifies his justification for inclusion on a list like this. Green averaged 14 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game, 7.4 assists per game, 1.5 steals per game, 1.4 blocks per game, and shot nearly 39% from 3 point range. He might be one of the five most valuable players in the NBA. Green ranked 2nd in the league in triple doubles this season, always seeming to energize the Golden State Warriors to grind out tough victories. He put his stamp on many of those 73 wins. Green ranked 2nd in the league in Real Plus-Minus WINS, 3rd in Real Plus-Minus, 4th in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, 4th in Defensive Box Plus/Minus, 6th in Defensive Win Shares, 9th in Box Plus/Minus, 9th in Value Over Replacement Player, 10th in Offensive Real Plus-Minus, and 10th in Win Shares. Specifically for power forwards, he also ranked 1st in the league in Offensive Win Shares. If Leonard is the best two-way player in the league, Green is the 2nd best.
This position has been the most difficult for me to analyze by far. While this isn’t exactly the golden age of NBA centers, there’s a lot of quality players around the league that are hovering in the same sphere without gaining much significant separation from each other. I named Hassan Whiteside to my First Team due to his blend of defensive dominance and offensive competence. I’m tempted to give this Second Team spot to DeMarcus Cousins, but his lofty offensive statistics didn’t translate to advanced metrics that signify the type of influence on the court that helps your team win. The Sacramento Kings were a mess this year, and Cousins’ empty statistics are a lot like junk food from a vending machine: they’re appealing at first glance, but lack nourishment and will eventually make you feel sick if you invest in them. Andre Drummond has a similar game to Whiteside, but Jordan has more defensive impact than Drummond, and it makes up for the handful of points that Drummond provides over Jordan. In fact, this is a great era for Jordan to be playing in in terms of legacy, because his limited offensive skills don’t reveal themselves through statistics compared to other centers in the league as much as they would have 20 years ago. He knows his own limitations, though, and lead the league in field goal percentage by shooting an astounding 70% from the field. He ranked 2nd in the league in rebounds per game, 2nd in blocks per game, 2nd in defensive rebounding percentage, 3rd in Defensive Win Shares, 4th in block percentage, 5th in Offensive Rating, 5th in Defensive Box Plus/Minus, 6th in Defensive Rating, 7th in True Shooting Percentage, and 9th in Win Shares. Specifically for centers, he ranked 1st in both Real Plus-Minus WINS and Offensive Win Shares. The evidence paints a solid case for Jordan claiming a spot on this list.