Larsen’s Midseason All-NBA Teams

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We are just over the halfway mark of the 2023 NBA season and the All-Star break is a few weeks away. By this point, certain players and teams have made themselves felt across the league and there is no more accurate representation of that than the All-NBA teams. 

The All-NBA teams are very important. Do not get it confused; this is not a list of the best fifteen players in the league. Instead, it is a list that accurately portrays what fifteen players have had the best and most important seasons relative to their teams success. Personally, I care more about All-NBA teams than I do All-Star voting because as you look back across the history of basketball, the All-NBA teams can paint a very detailed picture of what happened in that specific season.

In that case, I take this very seriously. I don’t want to mess around with finding out who was important to a season. For example, DeAndre Jordan making 1st team All-NBA in 2015 despite NOT being an All-Star, and averaging 12 pts and 13 reb for a Clippers team that lost in the first round. I don’t want to do that again. 

With all of that being said–and after watching many hours of NBA League Pass (the greatest thing ever)–here are my midseason All-NBA teams. I try to stay true to the “two guards, two forwards, one center” format, but sometimes it’s tricky. 

Honorable Mentions

LeBron James, F, Lakers — He was probably the first guy left out and was very close to making my third team. No one can argue with his stat line (29/8/6), but he’s only played 37 games this season (games played matters), and the Lakers are…not good. This team has major problems and Rui Hachimura is not going to fix them. If the Lakers were in a play-in spot then LeBron probably makes the third team. He’s that close.

Kyrie Irving, G, Nets — Honestly, Kyrie wasn’t really that close to making it. He’s putting up 26/5/5 but has only played 35 games. And let’s be honest, do you trust him on your team?

Bam Adebayo, C, Heat — Another tough omission here. He’s played enough games and is shooting a high percentage. His numbers are good and his defense is really important to a Heat team that has found their rhythm recently. But I just couldn’t put him as the third team center over the guy I have there now. 

Stephen Curry, G, Warriors — A lot of you skipped the first few paragraphs, ended up here, and are saying, “What the hell, man! Steph is one of the best players in the league! This list already sucks!” I advise you to please go read the first two paragraphs. The numbers and pedigree are there, but Steph has only played 32 games, and the Warriors are barely hanging on to the 10-seed right now. 

Anthony Davis, F/C, Lakers — He’s only played 25 games. Next.

Devin Booker, G, Suns — Booker has only played 29 games, and he’s been out since basically mid-December. The Suns are 7-12 since he went out. 

Trae Young, G, Hawks — Sorry, Hawks fans. But you’re kidding yourselves if you think Trae is on an All-NBA team. 27 points and 9 assist averages will get you on an All-NBA team, but not in these conditions. The Hawks have been underwhelming, extremely inconsistent, and this has been his worst shooting year of his career. Not to mention all the coach feuding and what not. But if the Hawks can string together some wins in the last part of the season, then he can definitely grab a spot on the third team.

1st Team All-NBA

Luka Doncic, G, Mavericks

Ja Morant, G, Grizzlies

Jayson Tatum, F, Celtics

Kevin Durant, F, Nets

Nikola Jokić, C, Nuggets

This was one of the hardest parts of making this because there are three amazing forwards–Tatum, Durant, Giannis–for only two spots. I feel like Tatum has to be on there. He’s third in points per game and has been an MVP candidate the whole season. Every game, he is taking and making the biggest shots, and he’s a big reason the Celtics have a four game lead for the top seed. 

Durant is quietly having one of his most efficient seasons and is shooting the best field goal percentage of his career. He has also completely turned the Nets season around. After a below .500 start, the Nets cranked out 18 wins in 20 games, going as high as the 2-seed. During that twenty game span, he was averaging 30/7/5 while shooting 59% from the floor. However, after spraining his MCL, the Nets lost four in a row. It’s clear how important he is to this team’s success, which is probably why he is in the top seven in Win Shares this season. Win Shares is an advanced stat, a number that shows how many wins one player contributes to his team. You’ll hear me say it a lot. 

The others are pretty easy. Luka is average close to a triple double, and he’s one of the most feared shot makers in the league. He is second in the NBA in Win Shares (7.7) and is also the scoring leader. After a poor start, the Mavs have turned it around. They currently sit tied for fifth in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies are really giving the Nuggets a run for their money for the top seed in the West, and Ja Morant is a big reason why. He’s averaging 27/5/8, but shooting only 31% from the three point line. If he could get that to about 34% and really make defenders respect that shot, then the potential is limitless. Memphis is one of the best home teams (20-3 this year) and is poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. 

Last, but certainly not least is Nikola Jokić. One of my favorite players to watch and probably the MVP frontrunner as of today. The casuals won’t like/respect him because he doesn’t have high flying dunks or talk a lot of trash…all the stuff that gets you seen on Tik Tok. But Jokic has a game that is tailored to beat any defense, and he’s got a good supporting cast to help him do it. He leads the league in Win Shares and Player Efficiency Rating. He’s also second in the league in assists per game (as a center!). Denver has been nearly unbeatable at home, and it’s almost a guarantee they will end up with one of the top two seeds. 

2nd Team All-NBA

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Thunder

Donovan Mitchell, G, Cavaliers

Jaylen Brown, F, Celtics

Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks

Joel Embiid, C, 76ers

I’ll start with Giannis since he was so hard to leave off the first team. The Nets and Celtics have both been playing better than the Bucks have, but for my money, Giannis is still the best player in basketball and the one guy nobody in the league wants to see in the playoffs. His 2022-23 season averages (31/12/5) would be career bests, MVP winning seasons for a lot of great players. But because it’s Giannis and we are so used to it,  we just yawn and keep on moving. The Bucks also clearly miss Khris Middleton, who has only played seven games due to injury. I still think if Middleton is healthy last season then the Bucks waltz to a second straight title, and the same is proving true this year. Ultimately, I’m not putting Giannis on second team because of anything he did. It’s just credit to Tatum and Durant for having incredible seasons. Soon enough the Bucks will get rolling again. 

As good as Tatum has been, Jaylen Brown is a huge reason for their success as well. He is the perfect Robin to Tatum’s Batman. He can score from anywhere on the floor, but his defense alongside Marcus Smart is what sets him apart from other challengers for his second team spot. His 27/7/3 is definitely good enough to get him here, along with the Celtics 35-14 record. The Donovan Mitchell resurgence has been quite the treat, though. Mitchell has taken this young Cavs team from a play-in team last year to a top five seed that can really give one of the contenders a scare. He’s easily scoring about 29 points per game while shooting 40% from three. But the big factor has been how damn unstoppable he is at the end of games. Turn on a close Cavs game in the fourth quarter, and you’ll be amazed at how he takes over in the biggest moments. 

You already know about Joel Embiid, he just goes about his business. Putting up 33 and 10 is his usual statline, and the Sixers have been on a tear the last two months, going 18-4 since December 8th and finding themselves as the 2-seed. Could this be the year he reaches his first Conference Finals?

I debated between three guards for this second team guard spot and ended up going with SGA. The Thunder’s record isn’t great (23-25), but it’s better than we expected from a team that now has to decide if they want to tank or make a trade to get even better. It’s really hard to make an All-NBA team with a bad record, but SGA might be that good, and I would be very surprised if we didn’t see him on one of the three teams at the end of the season. The advanced stats absolutely love him. At 24 years old on a “tanking” team, he is fourth in the league in Win Shares (7.1). That stat literally means without him the Thunder would be projected to be 16-31 instead of 23-24. He’s also fourth in PER (27.0)–behind Jokic, Embiid, and Luka and ahead of guys like Giannis, Durant, and LeBron. All of that on top of a very efficient 50% shooting from the floor. The Thunder have their lead guy, and Sam Presti has a decision to make on how he wants to surround their star guard. 

3rd Team All-NBA

Tyrese Haliburton, G, Pacers

De’Aaron Fox, G, Kings

Julius Randle, F, Knicks

Lauri Markkanen, F, Jazz

Domantas Sabonis, C, Kings

It’s a very strange third team. Can you believe two Kings players made it?! I was extremely high on Haliburton in the 2020 Draft (really wanted the Hawks to take him), but even I am surprised he is this good this quickly. He’s shooting 40% from three, his scoring and playmaking have been as good as some of the great guards in the league (leads the league in assists), and he’s capable of playing really good defense. When he plays, this Pacers team was much better than anyone thought, but after his recent injury, Indy lost six straight. They miss him dearly. 

The Kings are the 3-seed! Let that sink in. De’Aaron Fox has been really pivotal towards this turnaround. He is the perfect fit for this team, and his chemistry with Sabonis has been terrific. The knock on his game was always that he wasn’t reliable late in games. But he has turned that around and, in fact, is third in the NBA in total 4th quarter points this season. Not only is he reliable, he’s great! And Sabonis is third in the NBA in Win Shares! He also leads the league in rebounds per game. Those two guys are so freaking vital to their team, and more importantly, they have done something I didn’t think was possible…make the Kings good.

No one is talking about it, but Julius Randle has played in every single Knicks game this season while putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds per game. And the Knicks don’t suck. They’re in a battle with Miami and Atlanta for the sixth seed, but his work with Jalen Brunson this season has been key. Knicks fans are believing in this team again. And speaking of weird resurgences; Lauri Markkanen has been…kinda unstoppable at times. He’s one of the league’s best and most efficient three point shooters (52% FG, 43% 3pt), and I was stunned to find he is top seven in the NBA in Win Shares. Remember when everyone said this Jazz team would have a top five pick in the upcoming Draft? Well they’re 25-25 and only one game behind Dallas and the Clippers for the 5-seed. On this team of misfit toys, Markkanen has flourished. When you average 25 and 8 on a team like this, then you get my nod on the third team.  

Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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