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Picking the 2020-21 All-NBA team — Does Beal make the cut?

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Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal merits third team All-NBA.
Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

So, I blocked off some time to assemble my hypothetical 2020-21 All-NBA. It usually takes me 60-90 minutes and figured two hours would be enough.

I’m now on hour four. AND MY BALLOT IS MEANINGLESS.

My short list for the 15-man team — 6 guards, 6 forwards, 3 centers — was 31. That was after winnowing the initial off the top of my head list from more than double. A few names surprised me when I crunched the numbers and assembled my final scores.

Center

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was an easy pick at the top. He’s been healthy and exceptional all season and he’s probably going to be my pick (and nearly everyone else’s) for MVP.

After that...agony. I have three centers who each had terrific seasons for two slots: Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert and Clint Capela. Honorable mention to Bam Adebayo, who had a terrific season but couldn’t get past fifth in my consideration.

Embiid was an MVP candidate at the halfway point of the season but got hurt so his total production lagged. Ultimately, I put him second team because of his excellence when healthy.

Capela and Gobert have similar statistical profiles, and their scores in my weird system were tied. Two factors came down in Gobert’s favor: 1) he’s been healthier so he won the total production battle, and 2) he’s been the best and most important player on a better team.

Forward

The big question at forward was the order of the top three. Miami’s Jimmy Butler has had a MONSTER season that feels under the radar. Even with the injury troubles, I have him first team All-NBA if I created the list using total, per game, or per possession production.

The second first team forward spot is between Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis edges ahead in total production; Leonard in per game and per possession. In my purely subjective view, I give the slightest edge to Giannis, which gives them a tied score. So, first team honors go to Giannis for total production.

The other second team spot is between Zion Williamson and LeBron James. Williamson’s had a great season, and James missed a bunch of games with that ankle injury. But, James grades out ahead of Williamson per game, per possession, and on defense (by marathons) and James is just plain better.

That leaves me with three candidates for one forward slot. The prospects: Paul George, Jayson Tatum and Michael Porter Jr. George has been very good all season and continues to be a superb defender. Tatum has carried a Celtics team that’s struggled terribly with injuries and COVID. Porter is an outstanding shooter at good volume, and he increased his production without losing efficiency when Jamal Murray tore his ACL.

The pick: George.

By the way, I know Julius Randle will probably make All-NBA this season. While I admire how well he’s played and how important he’s been to the Knicks this season, I couldn’t elevate him past the guys I mentioned.

Guard

First team guards were easy: Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard. No matter how I analyzed it, those two came up on top.

Luka Doncic was also an easy pick for second team. The next battle was between Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul. I had Paul with an edge in total production; Irving in per game and PPA. Ultimately, I went with Paul for second team because of how important he’s been to the Suns and because he didn’t take personal leave during the season.

That leaves four candidates for one guard slot: Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley, Zach LaVine, and Bradley Beal. Each of these guys has produced when on the court, but Holiday, Conley and LaVine have all missed a lot more time than Beal. Ultimately, Beal’s advantage in total production swung the 6th guard spot his way — at least in my eyes.

Kevin Broom — 2020-21 All-NBA

1st TEAM PLAYER TEAM
1st TEAM PLAYER TEAM
G Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors
G Damian Lillard Portland Trail Blazers
F Jimmy Butler Miami Heat
F Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks
C Nikola Jokic Denver Nuggets
2nd TEAM PLAYER TEAM
G Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks
G Chris Paul Phoenix Suns
F Kawhi Leonard Los Angeles Clippers
F LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers
C Joel Embiid Philadelphia 76ers
3rd TEAM PLAYER TEAM
G Kyrie Irving Brooklyn Nets
G Bradley Beal Washington Wizards
F Zion Williamson New Orleans Pelicans
F Paul George Los Angeles Clippers
C Rudy Gobert Utah Jazz