Jokic leads All-NBA team
Published 11:36 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2021
The Associated Press
Denver’s Nikola Jokic was the runaway MVP this season, which made it a virtual certainty that he would also be an All-NBA first-team selection.
Here’s the rarity: The MVP runner-up was not a first-team selection.
Jokic headlined the All-NBA first team that was unveiled Tuesday night, but Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid — who was second in the MVP race — only made the second team. Jokic and Embiid are primarily centers, in the eyes of most voters, and that meant they were vying for that position on the first team.
The rest of the first team: Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (the only unanimous first-team selection) and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard at forward, along with Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Dallas’ Luka Doncic at guard.
The second team picks, along with Embiid at center, were the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and New York’s Julius Randle at forward, plus Portland’s Damian Lillard and Phoenix’s Chris Paul at guard.
And the third team selections: Utah’s Rudy Gobert at center, Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving and Washington’s Bradley Beal at guard, and Miami’s Jimmy Butler and the Clippers’ Paul George at forward.
“I am humbled and honored,” Beal said.
The All-NBA voting still classifies by position — with two guards, two forwards and a center on each of the three teams — in a league that has gone increasingly positionless. There are 15 players on the final list, which essentially breaks down to the top six guards, top six forwards and top three centers, not necessarily the best 15 players.
And the MVP award has no positional breakdown. Voters choose five players; positions don’t matter. For All-NBA, a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league serve as the selectors.
It was the first time since 1994-95 that the MVP runner-up wasn’t a first-team selection; it was a collision of two centers for one spot that season as well, with MVP David Robinson getting the first-team nod and runner-up Shaquille O’Neal winding up as the second-team center pick.
There have been similar examples before, and even four instances — albeit none under the current voting format — of the MVP not making the All-NBA first team. It happened to Bill Russell in 1958, 1961 and 1962, and then to Dave Cowens in 1973.
Blake Griffin was third in the MVP voting in 2013-14; he was also second-team All-NBA that year because he finished behind Kevin Durant and James — the top two MVP votegetters — in the voting for the two forward spots.
The same thing happened to Carmelo Anthony in 2012-13; he was third in the MVP race, behind James and Durant, and was second-team All-NBA as well because they took the two slots at forward. Alonzo Mourning had a similar fate in 1999-2000; he was third in the MVP race, but just second-team All-NBA at center because he was behind O’Neal, that season’s MVP.