When the All-NBA First, Second and Third teams were announced by the league earlier in the week, it was no surprise to see names such as LeBron James, Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul and several others receive the honors of best players in the land.
After one of his typical seasons, San Antonio Spurs forward/center Tim Duncan is pretty much a shoe-in to be named an All-NBA player. However, being named to the Third team this time around was anything but a no-brainer given the statistics he compiled in 2014-2015.
In 77 games, Duncan averaged 13.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocks over 28.9 minutes per game. While certainly respectable at 5.5 less minutes per night, drop-offs in his career marks of 19.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game were glaring nevertheless.
Not to imply that Duncan wasn’t deserving of the honor, after all, the Third team is the least demanding and at 39-years-old his efficiency was rather impressive, but is it possible that someone with a more impressive season was overlooked simply due to Duncan’s Hall of Fame track record?
Say Brook Lopez, perhaps?
The Brooklyn Nets big man struggled so mightily early on in the season that first-year coach Lionel Hollins made the former All Star ride the bench for a period of time, but Lopez’s production shot up exponentially after Hollins allowed him to re-enter his comfort zone away from the basket. By the conclusion of the regular season Lopez had compiled averages of 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds 0.7 assists and 1.8 blocks per game.
Not only did Lopez average more points per contest than Duncan, but he was also the driving force that snuck the Nets into the playoffs while Duncan was not burdened with having to put the well-rounded Spurs – who finished sixth in the West but were only one game worse than the second-seeded Houston Rockets – on his back at any point during the season.
Lopez was also named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for back-to-back weeks spanning between March and April.
Something to at least think about.
To imply that Lopez, who could have been recognized as a partial forward similar to Duncan due to the amount of time court-time he would share with seven-footer Mason Plumlee, (DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers was named as the Third team’s center) was outright snubbed in this process would be a reach.
A reach ranging as far as a giraffe’s neck.
But to suggest that Duncan was given his 15th All-NBA selection over Lopez solely because of the numbers and not the five-time champion resume would be naïve.
As far as Lopez is concerned, hopefully he has better luck becoming an All-NBA player next season.
For that matter, better luck to the entire Eastern Conference, which was represented by only 3 of the 15 total All-NBA selections.
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