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Filling in the All-NBA Team Ballot (Second of two parts): The Guards April 11, 2006

Posted by benj in NBA.

kobe bryantchauncey billupstony parkerdwyane wade

After a mind-numbing marathon of forwards evaluation, we now proceed to see which among the NBA's guards has made the cut.

Quick thought: Has anyone dared question why the game of basketball is played by two players called "forwards", two "guards" and a "center" ? Come on, think about it, doesn't it put the little guys at a disadvantage just because they don't play the forward slot? A lot of forwards could play dual positions – thus rendering them of a greater chance of being included in the All-NBA Team because there can be three slots (for a forward-center) or as much as four slots (for a guard-forward). At this day and age wherein a lot of teams use unconventional three-guard, four-guard, four-big men etc line-ups, maybe it's time to scrap the rigid CFFGG syntax.

The 2005-06 season will be recognized as a year wherein guards definitely seized control of the league again. After the dominance of Duncan and Garnett from just a couple of years back, the NBA's guards (some old and some new) have pushed themselves up the list as far as serious MVP consideration is concerned. To further prove this point, wrap your head around this: four out of the top five scorers in the league are guards.

Given the rigidity of the setup, it's a shame that we can only pick six guards who could fill the slots of the All-NBA teams. Let's do a rundown of the possible candidates.

*in alphabetical order*

gilbert arenas
Gilbert Arenas
Washington Wizards (39-38)

After last season's meteoric rise to All-Star status, Gilbert Arenas once again proves the naysayers wrong as he continues to up his scoring average to just a shade under the thirty point mark (29.2 ppg – fourth best in the league). Arenas was also named as Jermaine O'Neal's replacement for the 2006 Eastern All-Star Team for his second over-all All-Star Game invite. His team has the inside track for the fifth seed and first crack at the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the flipside though, the Washington Wizards' 39-win 38-loss record is far inferior compared to the record eighth seed of the West.

chauncey billups
Chauncey Billups
Detroit Pistons (62-15)

Though his statistics may not be as eye-popping as the other guards in this short list, Chauncey Billups pulls his weight in a department wherein almost no other candidate could out do him – leading his team to victories. Just like he has always done, Billups has been an excellent leader for the Detroit Pistons – the team poised to have the best record at the end of the regular season. Billups was an early MVP pick back at the turn of the year when the media were still having illusions of grandeur regarding the Pistons' chances for a 70-win season and while everyone was still a bit wait-and-see with the entire Kobe and Phil situation. He has upped his scoring to 19 per game while continuing to run the Pistons offense with 8.7 feeds (good for fourth in the NBA). He has a case for MVP and he will definitely get votes. But since we're sure that he's not winning the Podolof trophy this year, it's more interesting to see if he makes the All-NBA First Team.

kobe bryant
Kobe Bryant
Los Angeles Lakers (41-37)
In his second year away from Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant has posted one of the highest scoring clips in recent memory (35.2 ppg) and one of the most remarkable one-game feats in the history of the league when he drilled in 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. The Los Angeles Lakers are also about to limp into the post season after missing the playoffs last season. As far as offense goes, Bryant is arguably the best player in the NBA. He has made it past the 40-point mark more than twenty times already and the Lakers are still a feared first round matchup. But then again, the voters have put a premium on giving awards for players on winning teams and those who makes his teammates better. Those two things are clearly not going Kobe's way.

allen iverson
Allen Iverson
Philadelphia 76ers (36-41)
The Answer seems to just continue to cheat Father Time. Just when it seemed like he was headed to his career's decling three seasons back, Allen Iverson has bounced back with back-to-back career seasons. Despite being less than two months away from his 31st birthday, Iverson has been posting the highest scoring average and shooting percentages ( 32.9 ppg and .448, respectively). Given the feel-good mood that an aging-superstar-who-pulls-out-a-career-year story is a guaranteed media magnet, it's a shame that it has not exactly come together for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers have struggled to win despite Iverson's best efforts and they are still not assured of a playoff berth.

steve nash
Steve Nash
Phoenix Suns (50-26)
Last year's MVP is looking more and more like a two-time MVP. As improbable as it may sound, Dirk Nowitzki's old sidekick may be just about to rack up his second Podolof trophy in as many years. Nash has been simply phenomenal this year. He has led a team that is missing its top scorer from the previous season to a practically identical win-loss record. Nash is the engine that has made the Phoenix machine run, and if media hype is any indication, the Canadian is almost a lock to win.

tony parker
Tony Parker
San Antonio Spurs (59-18)

Before anyone over looks this, yes, Tony Parker is only about to turn 24 next month. Tony Parker has certainly found his game season as he has consistently led his team in scoring (19.1 ppg) and field-goal shooting (.544 FG%). Due to the dip in Tim Duncan's performance, Parker has had to be more aggressive on offense and that has paid dividends not only for Frenchman but also for the San Antonio Spurs.

dwyane wade
Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat (50-27)

Much has been said about Dwyane Wade's two-way game and needless to confirm, it's all well-deserved. Not a lot of players could say that they both have significant effect on their team's offensive and defensive performance. Just like all the rest of the guards in this short list, Wade has posted a career-best scoring average of 27.5 ppg. The Heat are the (far) second best team in the East – but if they were in the West, they would fare no better than fourth place.

The list ends there. That should make it a lot easier. Seven guards have played on an unbelievable level this year and the rest of the league's guards were not in step. These seven are definitely the ones worthy of being name into those All-NBA Teams. Unfortunately, one of the aforementioned seven won't be making the ballot.

Let's set the initial measures.

First, clearly, Steve Nash is All-NBA First Team Material. The job that he has done with the Phoenix Suns is simply remarkable and deserves to be distinguished.

All-NBA First Team

G – Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns

G – Vacant

Three people come to mind when consideration for the other All-NBA First Team guard slot is concerned – Kobe, Chauncey and Wade.

I know this is very contentious, but I'm leaning towards Wade. Kobe and Chauncey are polar opposites. While Kobe represents the high-scoring player on a mediocre team, Chauncey is more of the less-than-electrifying player on the league's top team. Wade is the sweet compromise between the two. Wade combines the statistical excellence of Kobe with the relative success that the Miami Heat has had this season. So that being said, we fill out our All-NBA First Team backcourt ballot as follows:

Almost by default, we take-off from our First Team snubbees Kobe Bryant and Chauncey Billups and send them on a first class ticket to the All-NBA Second Team. It's painful to see Allen Iverson's season not get feated by an endorsement to the first to All-NBA teams, though.

Now this is were it gets interesting. With four players already in their respective teams, three unsorted candidates (Arenas, AI and Parker) will have to contend for the two remaining slots. Individual statistics-speaking, it's an easy choice – Allen Iverson and Gilbert Arenas should get the slots. We have to factor in the thing that Tony Parker brings though. Just like Chauncey, he is from a winning team and he is playing the best season of his career.

As tough it is to cut someone from the Regular Season Pantheon, it has to be done. After much ramefications and thinking, I came up with this duo.

It's particularly painful to not reward Allen Iverson, but in a year wherein a lot of guards came to play (and actually led their teams to wins), it was hard to justify his inclusion.


1. Pop - April 25, 2006

i still dont believe Kobe is a all-NBA selection..never did like the guy.. also, why is he even being mentioned for MVP? yes he is a one-man scoring machine, but he was like that last season and they did not make the playoffs, Kobe does not deserve the credit for getting the Lakers into the post season, its Phil Jackson who deserves that honor.. Without Phil, Kobe could be jacking up shot after shot and they still would be a below-average team

2. lateralus - April 25, 2006

thanks for visiting the site. akala ko kung sino – akala ko si coach pop. hehe

yeah, we’re in the absolute minority. For me, it’s Nash then Dirk then LeBron for MVP. Ill put Wade at number 4 and Billups at 5.

3. patty/ciacia/trish - May 4, 2006


4. batzky (aka numetal) - May 6, 2006

i concur! No way Kobe’s ought be considered MVP-worthy. Not even close. Steve Nash is playing on a badly-depleted Suns line-up and still came up with a very respectable 50+ regular season wins.

5. lateralus - May 6, 2006

Actually, it is only now that I realized that the Suns are a really beaten-down team. They practically have only one real rebounder in Shawn Marion (who doesnt even have a post game, he’s still more of an SF than a PF) and the rest are wingmen – Tim Thomas, Boris Diaw etc. In terms of strength of lineups, the mere fact that the Lakers have Odom and Brown should make them favorites.

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