With the 2022-23 regular season now behind us, it’s time to take a hard look at which 15 players should be named to the league’s three All-NBA teams.
This season’s ballot poses a unique problem for two reasons. First, there is more talent and parity than there ever has been in the league. More than 40 players averaged at least 20 points per game on this year’s official leaderboard. Ten years ago, that number was nine.
Second, there will be a debate on how much availability should matter in these awards. Many of the top players fell short of 65 games played. That number is relevant because, once the league’s new collective bargaining agreement goes into effect, that will be the minimum requirement in order to qualify for an All-NBA team.
I think that the 65-game cutoff is a bad rule. It’s too high of a bar to clear and an unnecessary restriction on voters. Based on that rule, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James would be considered ineligible for two consecutive years. All three have been elite players during that time period, and Curry willed his team to a title last season.
With the explanation that games played matters to me, but less than it does to the NBA rule-makers, here is who I think should make the All-NBA teams this season.
Doncic was my first pick. His team’s lack of success was disappointing, but he finished second in the league in scoring and sixth in assists. The Mavs had the sixth-best offense in the league because of how well they played through him.
Gilgeous-Alexander was the No. 2 guard in the league. Behind his exceptional play, the Thunder massively outperformed their preseason expectation of 23.5 wins, per Basketball Reference.
They were built around his slithering drives to the basket, as he ranked first in the league in that category. He became one of the best offensive players on the planet, averaging 31.4 points per game. He also improved his defense from below average to solid.
My Second Team guards are Mitchell and Curry. Mitchell’s 71-point explosion was the signature highlight of a dominant year for him. He played a ton of minutes and also drastically improved his defense for the fourth-seeded Cavs.
Curry missed a lot of games, but he was electric when he played. His 3-pointer, which took an unusual dip last season in percentage (38.0), is totally back to the typical Curry level (42.6).
Lillard and Fox grab the last two spots. Lillard also missed a ton of time and was held out of his team’s last stretch of games. It seems unfair to punish him for the Trail Blazers’ inability to build a team around him, especially when he was the best offensive player in the league in many metrics like estimated plus-minus (EPM) and had the best season of his career.
Fox is the heavy favorite for the Clutch Player of the Year award and a massive reason why the Kings finally clinched a playoff spot after a 16-season drought.