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All-NBA Fantasy Team v2

Can Dirk push away Durant and the rest of the forward field to land a spot on the fantasy all star team?
Can Dirk push away Durant and the rest of the forward field to land a spot on the fantasy all star team?

Yesterday, we started the enviable task of grading the fantasy all stars by position leading with the Guards. While I thought ranking the top 6 guards at the season’s halfway point was tough, I had no idea what I was in for when attempting to rank the forwards. This season there seems to be so many forward-eligible players who deserve top honors. In order to weed out the "slash" players i.e. power forwards eligible at both PF & C and small forwards eligible at both SG & SF, I must only include the forwards primarily playing this position so far. This means players such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Pau Gasol (before Andrew Bynum’s return) and Al Jefferson will be ranked as Centers because this has been their spot in 2010-2011. If you are looking at the awards and thinking to yourself, "Well, this is nice and all, but where is so and so?" just assume the player is on another position awards list. Or the player just missed the cut. While using the criteria mentioned above helped me rank the forwards appropriately, by no means was it simple. Enough chit chat - Without further ado, let’s get to the forwards.

First Team

SF Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

PF Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

More than likely, I will get some flack for excluding Mr. South Beach from the first team, and I promise you it’s not because the inner Knick fan in me hoped he might venture to NYC instead of Miami. In my opinion, Kevin Durant is the league MVP and fantasy MVP at this point of the season. When trying to find a flaw in his game, I could only find that he averages 3.2 turnovers per game (most superstars touch the ball a ton, hence they are more likely to turn the ball over more often) and is ONLY a decent FG and FT shooter, 46.6% and 88.3%, respectively. We are all aware of his talents and his 28.9 PPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 1.8 3-pointers-made per game, and nearly 7 rebounds per game. On both the season and a per-game basis, Durant is the number one player in fantasy and is a no-brainer for first-team honors. However, choosing his running mate at forward proved to be more of a difficult task. Debating between LeBron James and Kevin Love, I decided to go with Love since he has more than likely single-handedly carried fantasy teams in the rebounds category (a league-leading 15.6 per game). Love also leads the NBA in double-doubles (44) and 30-20 games (3). All of us poor Knick fans remember that historic 30-30 game he put up November 12th. Outside of his rebounding, Love’s game is criminally underrated. How many of you are aware Love averages 21.6 PPG, 2.5 APG and 1.4 3-pointers per game (all highly impressive numbers for a 6’10" Power Forward)? Love’s percentages are career highs as well as he has learned to become a better shooter this season. Let’s see if his numbers translate to a real all star nod.

See which team LeBron landed on after the jump...

Second Team

SF LeBron James, Miami Heat

SF Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies

LeBron is in the midst of putting up another one of his 25-7-7 campains, no big deal. In addition to his gaudy scoring/rebounding/assist numbers, James averages 1.5 swipes/game along with 1.4 three-pointers made per game. The primary reasons for James only claiming second team honors is his free throw shooting has not improved at all this season, his FG % shooting is the worst it’s been in the past 5 years and he has sacrificed some blocks averaging 0.6 per game, his lowest career total. Despite these statistical flaws, the NBA’s evil villain still came THIS close to a first-team nod. As I mentioned earlier, the forward pool is deep this season, or at least it’s been very top-heavy. The casual NBA fan has no idea how ridiculous Rudy Gay’s numbers are this season; hell, I wasn’t aware of his numbers since he plays in Memphis. Gay is one of the rare players in the NBA that averages 1/1/1 blocks, steals and three-pointers per game. How does 20.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 80.6 FT% (career high), career high 1.7 SPG & 1.1 BPG sound? Sounds like an unappreciated superstar to me. Enjoy your second-team accolades, Mr. Gay.

Third Team

SF Dorrell Wright, Golden State Warriors

PF Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

Perhaps I should have stopped the awards after awarding the second team, because it sucked omitting three of my favorite players in the NBA: Josh Smith, Blake Griffin and Paul Pierce. I suppose I could have extended it to five teams, right? Keep in mind J-Smoove, Pierce and the Human Highlight Reel Griffin are an extremely close 7-8-9. Wright, perhaps the waiver wire find/steal of the draft (depending on your league’s depth) of the season, leads the NBA in 3-pointers with 117. He may be the league’s most improved player; all he needed was some playing time. Wright has responded to his career high in minutes played by averaging career highs across the board. While averaging nearly 17 points per game, 3.1 assists/game and 6 rebounds per game, his defense is no joke either. Wright is only 0.2 blocks shy of averaging a 1/1/1. He is on two of my teams, and his all around-game has helped vault both of them to first place. Dirk’s total numbers are a little skewed due to the 9 game absences recently due to his knee injury. However, his numbers on a per-game basis have been outstanding (#14 per, and I’m sure he is playing a pivotal role on winning fantasy teams. Nowitzki is an extremely efficient shooter, even going ahead and averaging a career high-staggering 52% FG. 23.0 PPG, 0.7 BPG, 0.7 SPG and 7.0 RPG show an efficient player in all aspects of the game, and as a result, Nowitzki deserves to the final spot on the All-NBA Team.

Honorable Mentions

SF/PF Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks

SF Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

PF Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

PF Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz

PF LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Blazers

SF Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers

PF Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

SF/PF Wilson Chandler, New York Knicks

SF Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets

PF David West, New Orleans Hornets

Any honorable mentions deserve to be included over players such as Nowitzki and Wright? Please make your case in the comment section.