Paul George’s All-NBA status, which will decide whether the four-time All-Star is eligible to become $70 million richer and could therefore impact his willingness to remain with the Indiana Pacers, will be revealed prior to the NBA Draft. However, with the trajectory of the franchise hinging — strangely — on the media’s vote, it’s never too early for a sneak peak, right?
Our friends over at SB Nation’s Houston Rockets blog The Dream Shake created this nifty spreadsheet of media members who they were able to confirm submitted an awards ballot. Through crowd-sourcing and research, they were able to track down 62 of the NBA’s 100 first place votes for MVP and call the race for Russell Westbrook.
Unfortunately, not as many All-NBA ballots were made public; however, piggybacking off of the aforementioned list did produce some telling trends.
The All-NBA Teams are chosen by position with points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis. Voters are instructed to select two guards, two forwards, and one center for each team.
Here’s the point totals at the forward position, accounting for 20 percent of the ballots:
LeBron James: 110
Kawhi Leonard: 105
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 47
Kevin Durant: 44
Jimmy Butler: 22
Draymond Green: 13*
Paul George: 12
Anthony Davis: 6*
Karl-Anthony Towns: 3*
Gordon Hayward: 2
(*Only includes votes earned at the forward position. View the full breakdown of votes and voters here.)
Given the minuscule sample size, these results are obviously subject to change, especially since a few of the ballots aren’t complete (i.e. ESPN’s Jalen Rose only publicly revealed that he selected both Paul George and Gordon Hayward, not which team he put each of them on). Still, there are a few reasons to doubt George’s candidacy:
Kevin Durant’s injury did not dissuade voters:
Anthony Davis failed to make an All-NBA team last season largely because he was limited to 61 games due to injuries to his shoulder and knee. Voters haven’t been that harsh with Kevin Durant, despite the fact that he missed 19 of the final 20 games of the regular season after spraining his MCL against the Washington Wizards. Granted, he hasn’t received any First Team selections, but his name does appear, somewhere, on all 21 of the confirmed ballots. Winning cures all ills. Don’t expect Durant’s injury to lose him the spot his play earned.
Draymond Green’s ability to play multiple positions matters:
Voters are asked to choose players at the position they play regularly, but players who receive votes at multiple positions are slotted at the position where they receive the most votes. For this reason, Anthony Davis isn’t much of a threat to any of the six forward slots because most voters are considering him as a center, the position in which Basketball Reference estimates that he played 64 percent of his minutes.
(On a side note: The All-NBA teams need to stop being determined by position. The Second Team is not going to play an actual game against the Third Team and the First Team is not going to face off against the winner. Spoiler Alert: They’re not going to play at all. They’re not an actual team. That’s why there are All-Star rosters. The East actually plays against the West. The All-NBA teams should be composed of the league’s Top-15 players. That’s it. Let it be a reflection of the league’s evolution. Join the movement.)
The opposite is the case for Green. He’s receiving most of his votes at forward. However, at least one ballot reflects the vital role he plays in the middle of Golden State’s lineup of death in small bursts by slotting him as the First Team’s center.
This makes for a steeper climb for Paul George. He’s neck-and-neck with Green for the final spot. That first-place vote is worth five points, pushing his point total to 18. Indiana’s star isn’t going to edge out LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard on any ballots, which means he’s going to have to pick up either five third-place votes or one second-place and two thirds for every First Team selection Green may earn. As it stands now, George has only placed better than Third Team on two ballots.
Early preference being varied between Butler, Green, and George as well as 80 percent of the ballots being unaccounted for means the race is far from over; nevertheless, it’s evident that the Pacers aren’t going to be able to bank on Durant’s health or Green’s versatility to improve their chances of retaining Paul George.