What the 2016-17 All-NBA Teams Should Have Looked Like
The 2016-17 All-NBA Teams were named on Thursday. As usual, there was plenty of controversy about who was selected and where.
First and foremost, both Paul George of the Indiana Pacers and Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz missed the cut and were thus denied the chance at $200 million deals this summer. As a result, the Pacers and Jazz each stand much less of a chance of retaining their All-Stars, since the lucrative deals that they could've offered under the Designated Player Exception (for players that make All-NBA Teams, or win the Most Valuable Player or Defensive Player of the Year awards) were arguably their best bargaining chips.
There have always been heated debates about All-NBA selections, but now that there's a tangible financial advantage to making them, those arguments only stand to get hotter.
Having a vote to form these teams is becoming an even bigger responsibility than ever before. A wrong decision in previous years just meant a snub article or two (hundred) being written about the players left out with no real consequence. Now, media members who cast these votes -- in a weird way -- are playing with the livelihood of the best players in the game. That's a big responsibility.
So, what if we took that responsibility out of the hands of biased and flawed humans, and instead left the cold, hard decisions up to advanced analytics?
Sure, bias concerning which numbers to use would still be present, but at least disputable votes born of homerism and the like would be eliminated. The process of identifying the league's top performers would be purer and more universal, and fanbases would have less to get mad about. If your favorite player didn't make the cut, it would simply be because he didn't perform well enough in a particular stat, rather than as a result of someone (or many someones) egregiously overlooking him.
For an idea of what that would look like, consider the All-NBA Teams that were just released.
NBA announces All-NBA teams. Neither Paul George nor Gordon Hayward made it. Thus, no supermax for either this year. pic.twitter.com/GbHl82Ss9G
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 18, 2017
Everyone has an opinion on who should move up, down, on, or off, but rather than pick each and every position apart, let's look at what the All-NBA Teams would look like if they were exclusively performance-based and stripped entirely of biases related to popularity, market size, voter fatigue, etc.
To do so, we'll use our in-house metric, nERD.
If you're not familiar with nERD, it measures the total contributions of a player throughout the course of a season, based on his efficiency on both ends of the floor. Comparable to Win Shares, this ranking gives an estimate of how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would win over an 82-game season with said player as one of its starters.
Here are our "All-nERD" teams for 2016-17. If you disagree with any of the selections, feel free to go yell at a calculator.
All-nERD First Team
All-nERD Second Team
All-nERD Third Team
DeMar DeRozan (8.4 nERD), Draymond Green (6.0 nERD), and John Wall (5.6 nERD) all made the real All-NBA Teams, but didn't crack any of our All-nERD Teams. Meanwhile, Karl-Anthony Towns (14.5 nERD), Chris Paul (12.8 nERD), and Kyle Lowry (11.3 nERD) each found a spot on an All-nERD Team, but didn't get the same honor in real life.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook move down from All-NBA First Team to All-nERD Second Team, while Anthony Davis goes from First to Third. On the other hand, Rudy Gobert, Kevin Durant, and Isaiah Thomas get a promotion by moving up from All-NBA Second Team to All-nERD First Team.
Despite an incredible year, Giannis Antetokounmpo moves down from All-NBA Second Team to All-nERD Third Team.
We also have some snubs here, including George (3.8 nERD), Hayward (12.0 nERD), Marc Gasol (5.4 nERD), DeMarcus Cousins (5.5), Klay Thompson (4.5 nERD), and Damian Lillard (10.7). They didn't produce a high enough nERD to make the cut, though. There's always next year.