Superteams defined the NBA offseason, and their influence will be felt on the 2017-18 All-NBA rosters. We don’t know which teams will be attacked by the injury bug or which will be refashioned by trades. But with the summer winds done blowing and rosters mostly set, now is a good time to predict this campaign’s All-NBA first and second teams.
First Team: Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Karl-Anthony Towns
This could (maybe should) be the best version of Westbrook we’ve ever seen, which is incredible considering he’s been an All-NBA first-teamer each of the last two seasons.
Curry challenges conventional defensive thinking. You wouldn’t think a player requires attention as soon as he crosses half court, but that’s in his range. You wouldn’t think historic efficiency could come from so many off-the-dribble shots, but here’s the third-most accurate three-point shooter ever having less than 61 percent of his triples created by assists.
Whether his 14th NBA season was his best doesn’t matter. The fact it can even be discussed is mind-boggling. James should have more room to operate on offense with Kevin Love starting at center and easier defensive assignments with Jae Crowder on the roster. All arrows point to James becoming the first 12-time All-NBA first-teamer.
Peak Durant is a two-way terror, the single biggest threat to LeBron’s basketball throne. If this isn’t the season in which Durant surpasses his old training partner, it could mark the smallest gap between them yet.
Towns’ offensive repertoire is built around the most coveted contemporary quality: versatility. He can overpower opponents in the post or finesse his way past them. He can stretch defenses with his shooting, take his man off the dribble and find open teammates from all angles.
Second Team: James Harden, John Wall, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert
Harden did all of Houston’s heavy lifting last season. He averaged nearly twice as many points (29.1 to 16.2) and three times as many assists (11.2 to 4.2) as his closest teammate. That won’t happen with Paul in town, although Harden’s loss in volume production will bump him to the All-NBA second team.
The Washington Wizards need Wall to reach another level. Save for some second-team tweaks, they spent their summer further investing in their own core. That should give them a familiarity few teams can match, as their returning starting group was by far the league’s most utilized lineuplast season.
No one grades higher at both ends than the soft-spoken 26-year-old. If one stop wins you the game, there’s no one you’d rather have defending than Kawhi Leonard. If one shot wins you the game, there are a few guys you’d take over Kawhi—but not many.
Antetokounmpo takes the five-tool player thing even farther—he’s a five-position performer. He’s spent more than 10 percent of his career minutes at each of the 1 through 4 spots, and he can steal spot minutes as a small-ball 5. And he doesn’t just play everywhere on the court, he does everything while he’s out there.
Gobert needs more than defense to retain his second-team spot, though, especially if Joel Embiid’s body finally cooperates. But Gobert surged at the offensive end after the All-Star break (16.7 points on 70.1 percent shooting), and he’ll have to make another major jump with Gordon Hayward gone.