This year’s three All-NBA teams were announced on Thursday, and MVP favorites Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden are the lone unanimous First Team selections. Giannis is also one of three players making his debut on the First Team.
Joining the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets superstars on the First Team are Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić. George and Jokić are also making their First Team debuts. Curry is making his first appearance on the top roster since his back-to-back MVP campaigns in 2015 and 2016, while Harden has been named to one of the top two guard spots for the fifth time in six years.
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, Warriors forward Kevin Durant, Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid make up the Second Team. The closest vote between the top two teams came down to Jokić and Embiid at the center position, with the former receiving 59 of the 100 possible First Team votes to the latter’s 40.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker, Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert rounded out the Third (and final) Team.
There was some question as to whether James — the aging four-time MVP who played just 55 games this season — would be left off the 15-man roster for the first time since his rookie season, but in the end it was not close. He appeared on 85 ballots, and the next-closest forward in the voting was San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, who appeared on just 13. James did, however, make his first appearance on the Third Team after 14 straight selections to one of the top two five-man units.
LeBron’s 15 total All-NBA selections ties him with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan for the most in league history. He is still only 34 years old.
Walker’s selection to the Third Team represents a potential financial boon for the Hornets guard. Based on league rules determined in the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, he is now eligible for a five-year, $221 million supermax contract — $31 million more than Charlotte could have offered him had he not been selected.
Conversely, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal — the next highest vote-getter, who appeared on just 11 fewer ballots than Walker — is not eligible for a supermax extension. He is signed through 2021 and has two more kicks at the can.
Golden State’s Klay Thompson, who finished behind Beal in the voting, lost some negotiating room in free agency. After being left off the All-NBA rosters for a third straight year, he is eligible for $190 million instead of $221 million through 2024.
Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is probably most disappointed in the voting. The five-year rookie contract extension he signed this past fall was worth $190 million if he made an All-NBA roster and $158 million if he did not. He finished fourth in the voting among centers and therefore lost $32 million, raising further questions about whether a 100-person panel of sportswriters and broadcasters should determine the earning power of NBA superstars.
It is a curious format — one the media had no input on during the 2011 CBA discussions — made more curious by eyebrow-raising votes every year. For example, this year alone, retiring Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade received a Second Team All-NBA vote, and Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III, who played three-quarters of his rookie campaign, got a Third Team nod.
The official 2018-19 All-NBA rosters:
G: James Harden, Houston Rockets
G: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
F: Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
C: Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets
G: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
G: Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
F: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
F: Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
C: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
G: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City
G: Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
F: Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
F: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
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