Predicting The 2021 All-NBA Teams: Joel Embiid And Nikola Jokic Could Both Be Selected To The First Team

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Predicting The 2021 All-NBA Teams: Joel Embiid And Nikola Jokic Could Be Both Selected To First Team

The All-NBA Team is a yearly honor bestowed by the NBA and is given to the best players in the league after the conclusion of each NBA season. The voting is conducted by a global panel of writers and broadcasters. The team has been created each season since its inaugural season in 1946. Since 1988, three five-man lineups have been created, including a first, second, and third team.

Since 1956, voters have voted on a format of two guards, two forwards, and one center for each team. Voters are instructed to vote for a player that they primarily play; however, we have seen special circumstances where players get votes at two positions. That includes Draymond Green (forward and center) in 2016 and Khris Middleton (guard and forward) in 2020.

Per NBA rules this season, which some may find a bit controversial, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic are eligible at both F/C per official ballot. Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Draymond Green are also eligible at F/C.

The additional players are eligible at both G/F: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Zach LaVine, Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Khris Middleton, Ben Simmons, and Devin Booker. Giannis and Zion Williamson are eligible for only forward, while Rudy Gobert and Clint Capella are only eligible at center.

Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant have played 34 and 33 games respectively. Due to their limited availability, they cannot be included on the All-NBA Teams.

Today, LeBron James holds the record for most All-NBA selections with 16, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan previously held the record together with 15. As the season looks to conclude, we take a look at who should win All-NBA recognition for the first, second, and third teams.


First Team

The First-Team consists of Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Jokic. Curry has been the best point guard and could win the scoring title. Leonard has played great this season, and since he is able to be selected as a guard, the media will use this loophole to make room for another great NBA player.

Giannis is an easy choice at forward and should finish in the top-5 for MVP voting. Due to the changing nature of the eligibility rules, that means that Embiid will be selected at All-NBA First-Team as a power forward, not center. Embiid is in the mix for runner-up in the MVP conversation, while Jokic has the center position to himself and potentially the MVP.


Guard - Steph Curry

31.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG

(via NBC News)

(via NBC News)

Curry’s shooting month of April was one of the best shooting performances we have ever seen. To give you an idea, Curry’s lowest scoring output was 18 points. He scored less than 30 points only two times in April. That also included performances with 47 points, 49 points, and 53 points.

Thanks to that hot stretch, Curry is in contention for the NBA scoring title with Washington’s Bradley Beal. With Klay Thompson not playing this season, Curry has led the Warriors to playoff contention. It shows that without Curry, the Warriors are a fraction of themselves when he doesn’t play.


Guard - Kawhi Leonard

25.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG

(via Bleacher Report)

(via Bleacher Report)

Leonard owns the second-most points per game among small forwards and has led the Clippers to the fourth most wins in the NBA. Leonard also has the second most steals, fourth-most assists, and is shooting the fifth-best overall field goal percentage.

In terms of defense, he is potentially the best overall small forward defending his position. He is close to taking the top award in player efficiency among small forwards. For his overall efforts, and team efforts, Leonard is an easy First-Team selection this season.


Forward - Giannis Antetokounmpo

28.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis has the highest player efficiency ranking among all power forwards and leads that category by a whopping two points. Also among players in his position, he is second in rebounds and assists and is third in steals and blocks.

Antetokounmpo also has seven triple-doubles this season and has once again stood out on the defensive end. The Bucks are playing for a top spot in the East and that has a lot to do with the play from their superstar.


Forward - Joel Embiid

29.2 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.4 BPG

Joel Embiid

Embiid is going to finish second in the MVP voting and would have received Second-Team All-NBA only because the league format accepts one center per year. Since Embiid can make the team via forward, he will be a sure-fire First-Team selection.

Embiid is averaging the most points among centers and is in the top in the scoring title chase. He has the highest player efficiency rating among centers. The number that sticks out is that Embiid takes 11.0 free throws per game, which is five more than any other center, and he converts 86% at the charity line.


Center - Nikola Jokic

26.5 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 8.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Nikola Jokic On His Pre-Draft Form- "The Worst-Conditioned Body In The NBA."

Jokic is an easy pick for All-NBA First-Team because he is the likely winner of the MVP this season. Jokic leads all centers with 58 double-doubles and 15 triple-doubles. Jokic is the leader in steals among players in the position and leads all centers in assists by nearly three more assists than the runner-up.

Jokic is second in scoring among centers and is nearly overtaking Embiid in player efficiency ratings. By the end of this year, Jokic is going to have a long list of awards next to his name.


Second Team

The All-NBA Second Team will feature Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Julius Randle, and Rudy Gobert. Paul has led the Suns to the second-best record in the league. Nobody expected the Suns to be this competitive, yet Phoenix is in talks for making a run towards the Western Conference Finals. Lillard will join Paul as the second guard after playing with the best clutch stats in the league.

Doncic is eligible for the forward position, despite being labeled as a point guard. Randle, like Suns, has led his team to a surprising finish as the Knicks are making the playoffs for the first time since 2013. As for Gobert, he deserves the second center position with both Embiid and Jokic out of the way.


Guard - Chris Paul

16.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 8.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.3 BPG

(via NBA.com)

(via NBA.com)

Paul’s stats may not be as flashy compared to years in the past, but there has to be something said about his value to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have the second-most wins in the NBA and are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference just one year after failing to make the playoffs. If the playoffs started today, the Suns have a very realistic path of making the Conference Finals.

Statistically speaking, Paul is ranked fourth in assists and double-doubles this season. He has made his team better while putting up top numbers among guards in the league, so he is well-deserving of being on the All-NBA team.


Guard - Damian Lillard

28.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 7.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG

(via @trailblazers)

(via @trailblazers)

Lillard owns the second-best efficiency ranking among point guards in the lead, only second to Curry. Lillard is also second in minutes per game, points per game, and has the fifth-most double-doubles in the league.

Lillard leads the league in clutch points this season and is shooting close to 60% from the field, and is shooting over 50% from three-point range in clutch situations. When it comes to late in the game, Lillard is the player you want taking the shot; therefore, he will be rewarded for those numbers.


Forward - Luka Doncic

27.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 8.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Luka Doncic

Doncic owns the second-most triple-doubles among point guards in the league with 10. The problem is that Westbrook has him beat with 36 this year. Doncic owns the third-most double-doubles with 25, while his points per game are third-most among point guards.

Doncic has improved every piece of his game this season. He is the second-leading rebounder among point guards, while his shooting percentages are also on par with the rest of the league.


Forward - Julius Randle

24.0 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 5.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG

(via Overtime Heroics)

(via Overtime Heroics)

The New York Knicks are a fun story as the team could finish in the top-4 in the Eastern Conference based on how these finals games play out. Randle’s first All-Star appearance has a lot to do with that, as his numbers are very impressive on paper. He has recorded 40 double-doubles this season, which is tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo for second-most among power forwards.

He also has the fourth-best rebounding mark, the third-best assists average, while his three-point shooting field goal percentage is second-best among all power forwards. The only player he trails in that department is Kevin Durant, who has missed significant time this season. That number is not skewed either as he takes around 5.4 three-point attempts per game, the fourth-most among players at the position.


Center - Rudy Gobert

14.3 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.7 BPG

Rudy Gobert

Gobert is in contention to win Defensive Player of the Year as he leads the entire NBA in blocks. He is also the leader in defensive rebounds and is the anchor of the team’s defense, which ranks near the top of the league.

His 67.5% field-goal percentage is the best among centers, while his rebounding is only second to Clint Capella, who leads the league in rebounding. With the Jazz leading the league in wins, someone has to make the All-NBA team. Gobert will be the lone representative.


Third Team

Since Embiid and Jokic were selected for the First-Team, and Gobert was selected for the Second-Team, the only centers that we have as consideration are Bam Adebayo, Clint Capella, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Draymond Green. Adebayo plays great defense and will make the Third Team because of eligibility. Otherwise, we would have players like Jayson Tatum or Zion Williamson on the Third Team.

The rest of the third team includes Kyrie Irving, James Harden, LeBron James, and Jimmy Butler. Irving has played great this season, and Harden was an MVP candidate before he got injured. James, like Harden, missed significant time but was the favorite to win the MVP earlier in the season. LeBron pushed the Lakers while Davis was gone, so he gets the nod over Tatum. As for Butler, he has some of the best stats among small forwards in the league.


Guard - Kyrie Irving

27.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Kyrie Irving

Irving owns the fourth-best points per game average among point guards but owns a better overall shooting percentage (50.3%) than Curry, Lillard, and Doncic. If you take T.J. McConnell, Ben Simmons, and Jalen Brunson out of the mix, Irving is the most efficient shooter, especially since his 20.4 field goal attempts are third among all point guards.

Irving also owns the fourth-best efficiency ranking, while his assists and steals are borderline top-10 numbers. With three of the best point guards already on this list, Irving’s numbers are close to their marks, which means he is a proven All-NBA player.


Guard - James Harden

25.1 PPG, 8.6 APG, 11.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG

James Harden

Before Harden missed time, he was leading the league in assists. There were national shows that had Harden pegged as the MVP after leading the team to as high as the No. 2 seed in the East with both Irving and Durant missed extended time this season.

Harden has 12 triple-doubles with the Nets this season. At one point, he was leading the Nets to a winning streak without Irving and Durant. If Harden played more games, he would be a First-Team selection, but due to his missed time, he will have to settle for this spot.


Forward - Jimmy Butler

21.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Jimmy Butler To Karl-Anthony Towns- "You're Soft As Baby Sh*t."

Butler is quietly having another sensational season. The Heat started slow, but have risen to the four seed, but could fall as low as the six seed. Either way, the Heat would not be in the position without Butler.

Among small forwards, Butler has the highest player efficiency, is averaging the most assists, and is the leader in steals. His rebound count is third-best, while he has finished with the second-most double-doubles.


Forward - LeBron James

25.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

LeBron James

Despite missing a month, LeBron will make the All-NBA team extend his NBA record. When LeBron was playing, many believed he was going to become the oldest MVP ever to win the award. An injury forced LeBron out of contention for that, but it did not take away his candidacy for All-NBA.

When Anthony Davis went down, LeBron continued to lead the Lakers to wins and kept the team in contention for a top-3 seed. Once LeBron was gone too, the Lakers began to plummet in the standings.


Center - Bam Adebayo

18.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG

Bam Adebayo Goes Off On Teammates After 20-PT Loss: "We Didn't Play To The Miami Heat Culture That We Represent."

Due to a technicality, Adebayo is going to make the Third-Team because each team has to have a center. Since the three best centers are already on the list, Adebayo will sneak onto this list. With that said, Adebayo has had a great season. His points are a career-high and he is very close to averaging a double-double on the season. loophole

Defensively, Adebayo’s hustle is a key contributor to the Heat’s success. The stat that sticks out the most is his versatility with passing. Adebayo ranks second among all centers in assists, trailing only MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.


Explanation

If the NBA didn’t make Embiid eligible for forward and Leonard eligible for guard, this is how the All-NBA Teams would look.

First Team: Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic

Second Team: Chris Paul, Luka Doncic, Jimmy Butler, Julius Randle, Joel Embiid

Third Team: Kyrie Irving, James Harden, LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, Rudy Gobert