2021 PBT NBA Awards: All-NBA

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·3 min read
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Kurt Helin

First team

Guard: Luka Doncic (Mavericks)

Guard: Stephen Curry (Warriors)

Forward: Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)

Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)

Center: Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)

Second team

Guard: Chris Paul (Suns)

Guard: Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)

Forward: LeBron James (Lakers)

Forward: Jimmy Butler (Heat)

Center: Joel Embiid (76ers)

Third team

Guard: Jayson Tatum (Celtics)

Guard: Paul George (Clippers)

Forward: Zion Williamson (Pelicans)

Forward: Julius Randle (Knicks)

Center: Rudy Gobert (Jazz)

Most years I would want the first-team All-NBA to match my MVP ballot, but this year with two centers on the ballot — Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid — it didn’t fit, which bumped Kawhi Leonard up. (While the NBA would have allowed me to put either of those big men at forward, I just could not do it — they are both centers, it felt like cheating to move one to another position.) All that said, I am comfortable with my first two All-NBA teams, those 10 players deserve to be on that level.

Third team All-NBA literally keeps me up at night every year, and this one was no exception — good players, deserving players get left off. Bradley Beal and Kyrie Irving top that list for me this year, with Trae Young close behind. Earlier iterations of this list had Beal and Irving at guard and the two guards on this third team — Jayson Tatum and Paul George — at forward, but in the end I felt Randle and Zion’s breakout seasons made them impossible to leave off the list.

Dan Feldman

First team

Guard: Stephen Curry (Warriors)

Guard: Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)

Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)

Forward: Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)

Center: Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)

Second team

Guard: Luka Doncic (Mavericks)

Guard: Chris Paul (Suns)

Forward: Jimmy Butler (Heat)

Forward: LeBron James (Lakers)

Center: Rudy Gobert (Jazz)

Third team

Guard: Paul George (Clippers)

Guard: Kyrie Irving (Nets)

Forward: Zion Williamson (Pelicans)

Forward: Julius Randle (Knicks)

Center: Joel Embiid (76ers)

I had three first-team locks: Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic.

The final two spots were a tough call between Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard and Luka Doncic. Lillard put the Trail Blazers on his back for long stretches of the season. Despite playing 14 games fewer than Doncic, Leonard got the edge for his defense and offensive precision.

Rudy Gobert over Joel Embiid was my only excruciating second-team decision. Embiid was better when on the court, near Gobert’s defensive level and far superior offensively. But by playing 20 more games than Embiid, Gobert got the edge for contributions this season. The Jazz center is obviously elite defensively, and his offensive contributions are underrated.

The last two third-team spots were a free-for-all between Paul George, Julius Randle, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal and Trae Young. George’s positional versatility allowed both guards and forwards to be in the race. Zion Williamson escapes the discussion and claimed one forward slot with his extreme ability to generate and convert shots at the rim. His efficiency was incredible, and his eventual turn at playmaker impressed. Randle took the other forward spot by carrying the Knicks’ offense, holding up defensively and playing so darned much. Ultimately, Irving got the last guard spot over Young with his defense and ability to thrive individually while playing with other stars.

2021 PBT NBA Awards: All-NBA originally appeared on NBCSports.com