We’ve been seeing a lot of spilled ink lately about just who is going to be NBA MVP and just which 15 anointed players will be on the first, second and third all-NBA teams.
And, par for the course, the All-NBA First Team included James Harden, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis — all who have toiled in the playoffs. Ditto for the Second and Third Teams, that had no non-playoff team nominees.
The NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams were announced Wednesday and not one player from a non-playoff squad was named, either.
Not one decent to great player from a non-contender will probably get any love at all from the league.
Other than the rookies of course, where guys like Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers and Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls made the NBA All-Rookie first team. On the second unit were the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta’s John Collins, the Suns’ Josh Jackson and Dennis Smith Jr. of Dallas.
In our opinion, though, being a great player on a mediocre to bad team shouldn’t limit them from getting a sniff at off-season glory. Here are 15 good to great players from non-playoff teams we think are ideal for our first, second and third NBA All-Snubbed teams, starting with the third squad.
15. PG Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets – All-Snubbed Third Team
After a good rookie season that saw the Kitchener, Ontario born Murray make the 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie Second Team, he broke out to become one of the better point guards this season. Denver sported a winning record of 46-36, narrowly missing the playoffs (by one game to 8th place Minnesota). He started just 10 of 82 games for the Nuggets in his freshman campaign and this year started 80 of 81, increasing his average floor time over 10 minutes per game (from 21.5 to 31.7). All his numbers, then, jumped appreciably. He finished the season with 16.7 points per game, putting him 11th among all point guards in scoring. He also added 3.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He gets All-Snubbed Third Team point guard status due to the fact that when his team won six of seven down the stretch (beating some playoff bound squads) to make things interesting, he averaged 18.1 points and 5.0 assists.
14. SG Allen Crabbe, Brooklyn Nets – All-Snubbed Third Team
Playing for a good team is easy, imagine suiting up for much-chided Brooklyn game in and game out. The Nets’ Allen Crabbe is living proof that toiling in a tough market can actually make a player better. Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 31st overall in 2013 out of Cal (and then traded to Portland), Angelino Crabbe has improved year over year. The Trail Blazers got four seasons of steady development out of the 6’6″ shooting guard, then dealt him to Brooklyn for Andrew Nicholson last summer. He made an instant impression, earning a starter’s role and posting career highs in points (13.2; 16th overall among all SGs), rebounds (4.3), assists (1.6) and blocks (0.5) in 75 games. Crabbe is awarded All-NBA Third Team status based on the aforementioned numbers as well as for the fact he finished strong. Evidence of this can be found in his line in a April 5 victory over Milwaukee, where he scored 25 points and had seven rebounds and seven assists.
13. PF Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic – All-Snubbed Third Team
Patience has paid off for the Magic, who have let for former fourth overall pick Gordon progress at a nice steady pace since he debuted in 2014. He’s just completed his fourth season and can be considered among the top 10 at his position. The 6’9″ power forward finished sixth among all of his confreres in scoring at a 17.6 points per game clip, which was also a career high. Included in his above average production was increased volume and success from three-point range. He dropped 115 of 342 attempts from beyond the arc for a career-best 33.6 percentage. Room for improvement there, yes, but a sign he is willing to amp up his game. As for the rest of his game, particularly on defence, Gordon was sixth among power forwards in rebounds (7.9), eighth in steals (1.02) and 13th in blocks (0.78). Gordon is a free agent this year and will command a lot of attention.
12. SF Taurean Prince, Atlanta Hawks – All-Snubbed Third Team
The Hawks were pretty awful this season, finishing dead last in the Eastern Conference at 24-58. However, for every cloud there is a silver lining and in the case of the Hawks there are at least two. One, they jumped up the draft order one place and will get a real good player at no. 3, and two, former 12th overall selection and second-year pro Taurean Prince established his cred as a bona fide starter. The Baylor grad repaid the Hawks faith in him in 2017-18, starting all 82 games and scoring 14.1 points (13th among small forwards), and adding 4.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks. Prince, who nearly doubled his minutes from his rookie campaign, was pretty darned good from three-point territory, hitting 176 of 457 attempts for a 38.6 percent success rate, which was 14th among all small forwards. He also posted five double-doubles, which was one more than big name players at his position like Paul George and Jayson Tatum.
11. C Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets – All-Snubbed Third Team
In our opinion, the Joker should be getting a strong look as a member of at least the all-NBA Third Team, based on his bust out 2017-18 season. Jokic finished third among all centers with 18.5 points per game, in just his third campaign, for one. Big Honey also cranked up the dial from three-point territory, finishing the season with a career high 39.6 percent success rate. Defensively, he was top 10 overall in rebounds with 10.7 per game and established career highs in steals (1.2, third among all centers) and blocks (0.81, 28th). Where he earns his All-Snubbed Third Team status is in double-doubles and triple doubles. He finished tied for 11th overall in the league with 38 double-doubles, but was first among all centers in triple-doubles with 10 (which was fourth best for all players in the league). His last triple-double of the season was a whopper, too, where he scored 15 points and added a season high 20 rebounds and 11 assists in a 88-82 victory over Portland.
10. PG Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks – All-Snubbed Second Team
And the first member of SportsBreak’s All-Snubbed Second Team is none other than Atlanta’s leading scorer, Dennis Schroder. The talented German put the team on his back in 2017-18 through a trying season, scoring 19.4 points per game, which was sixth best among point guards. As dimes go, he was tied for 11th with 6.2 per game. The reason he only makes second team All-Snubbed is because his three-point shooting fell off 50 points from 34 percent in 2016-17 to 29 percent this year (76 for 262). He improved greatly on defence, recording 72 steals in 67 games for a career high 1.07 percentage, while matching his 2016-17 output in rebounds with 3.1 per game. He wasn’t a double-double machine, with five, however, he did have one for the ages in a 94-93 win over New Orleans on Jan. 17. That game he shot 3-for-9 from beyond the arc and registered 13 points, but dealt out a season high 15 assists. His line finished with three rebounds and two steals.
9. SG Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings – All-Snubbed Second Team
Buddy Hield proved this season that his inclusion on the 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team wasn’t an aberration. The Bahamian shooting guard, who played a close second banana to rookie sensation Bogdan Bogdanovic for floor time and ended up beating him in two categories: points per game (13.5 to 11.8) and rebounds (3.2 to 2.5). Hield got our vote for second team All-Snubbed because he shot the lights out from three-point range. He was fourth among all shooting guards at 43.1 percent (fourth for point guards and ninth overall), sinking 176 of 408 attempts. The former sixth overall pick of the New Orleans Pelicans tied DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors for 12th among point guards in steals with 1.06 per game, too. He proved he was up to the challenge of big games this season, one of his best efforts coming in a win over Golden State on Mar. 16. He came off the bench to shoot 5-for-10 from three-point territory, for a team high 22 points, along with seven rebounds and seven assists.
8. PF Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers – All-Snubbed Second Team
Mark our words, the Lakers may be a heck of a team in a couple of years. The very talented — and young — core of this team includes Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and our pick for second team All-Snubbed, power forward Julius Randle. He is still just 23 and is coming off hes best offensive season since debuting in 2015-16. He scored 16.1 points per game this year to tie him with Kuzma and Ingram on the Lakers and to sit seventh among all players at his position. While his 8.0 rebounds per game weren’t a career high, that stat put him fourth just behind LaMarcus Aldridge on the PF ledger. He was also seventh in assists with 2.6 and 27th in blocks with 0.55 (45 total). His inclusion here couldn’t have been done without noting his 28 double-doubles (third for PFs and 19th overall) and one triple-double.
7. SF Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers – All-Snubbed Second Team
It’s a good thing the Lakers didn’t really need a top 10 pick in this year’s draft, since Philadelphia owns the Lakers former no. 10. No matter, this club’s kiddie squad is ably led by guys like Ingram, who has finished two years in the pros and won’t be 21 until the 2018-19 pre-season. The former Duke stud and second overall pick from the 2016 draft matured as a player this season and recorded some big numbers. His 16.1 points per game were ninth best among all small forwards and he also finished 15th in rebounds with 5.3 and sixth in assists at 3.9. Defensively his 43 blocks in 59 games put him ninth at 0.73. He played in 20 fewer games than he did in his rookie season, yet developed to the point he recorded the first six double-doubles of his young career. His most productive double-double came in a 102-99 triumph over Brooklyn in early February, where he scored 16 points and had 10 assists and eight rebounds.
6. C DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers – All-Snubbed Second Team
This is as much a consolation prize for missing the playoffs as it is for soldiering on after superstar teammates Blake Griffin and Chris Paul moved on from the Clips. Jordan is an easy pick for our All-Snubbed Second Team, given that he finished second to only Andre Drummond in rebounds with 15.2 per game. Incredibly that career best mark didn’t win him the total rebound title, like he did twice in back to back years 2014 and 2015. The only knock we could put on his game this year was the fact he “slipped” to a 64.5 percent rate in field goal efficiency, after leading the league five years running (including a career high 71.4 last year). Other than his rebounding proficiency, Jordan also posted 46 double-doubles, good for seventh overall. Of those double-doubles he gets full credit for registering 18 of them after Griffin was traded in early February.
5. PG Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets – All-Snubbed First Team
We are willing to bet that if Kemba Walker was playing on a playoff team like, say, Boston, he would be could be a legitimate NBA second or third team pick. As it is, we believe he is the best All-Snubbed point guard and deserves mention in the same breath as at least Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul. The Hornets weren’t awful this season, but neither were they very good, which makes Walker’s standout season even more remarkable. He was fifth among all point guards with 22.1 points per game and was the third most prodigious three-point shooter, launching 601 three-point bombs and hitting 231 of them for a 38.4 percent average. He doled out 444 assists in 80 games, finishing 14th among PGs with 5.6 per game. An All-Star for the second season in a row, Walker also recorded three double-doubles and had five games with 40 or more points.
4. SG Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers – All-Snubbed First Team
No one does a better job off the bench, at least where shooting guards are concerned, in as efficient a manner as 2014-15 Sixth Man of the Year winner Lou Williams. A rock solid candidate for this year’s Sixth Man, Williams finished third in scoring for shooting guards at 22.6 points per game, which also tied him for 13th on the NBA overall scoring ledger. One of the “old men” of our list at 31. Sweet Lou has shown no signs of slowing down. Those 22.6 points per game were his highest total ever, coming in 79 games (19 of them starts). He also lofted the most three-point attempts of his lengthy career at 518, dropping 186 for a 35.9 percent efficiency rating. Williams also chipped in 5.3 assists and 1.1 blocks over the 2017-18 season. He registered seven double-doubles this year, tying him for second among shooting guards.
3. PF Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons – All-Snubbed First Team
It was a fairly tumultuous season for four-time All-NBA man Blake Griffin. After the Clippers sent his sidekick Chris Paul to Houston for a host of players, the team didn’t fare too well and after an injury-plagued first half of the season, he too was dealt to Detroit. Despite all the upheaval, Griffin played very well and quite consistently in 33 games with the Clips and another 25 with the Pistons. In the end, he finished with 21.4 points per game, which landed him 18th in NBA scoring. He was ninth in rebounding among power forwards with 7.4 per game and second in assists with 5.8. Griffin also recorded 40 steals and 18 blocks. He separated himself from the power forward herd by registering three triple-doubles (tying him with fellow PF Draymond Green for most at his position) as well as 16 double-doubles. His last triple-double of the 2017-18 campaign came in a narrow late season loss to Houston, where he scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
2. SF Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks – All-Snubbed First Team
Since leaving in free agency from perennial contenders Golden State in 2016, Harrison Barnes has flourished in Dallas. Too bad the Mavs haven’t made the playoffs since his arrival. The member of the 2012-13 All-Rookie first team has seen a big spike in scoring production, from 11.7 PPG his last year with the Dubs to 19.2 in 2016-17 and 18.9 this year. The Ames, Iowa native was the sixth highest scoring small forward in the NBA in 2017-18 and could have helped his cause a little more by being more proficient, since his field goal percentage (44.5) was only 18th best. Barnes was also the sixth-best rebounder with 6.1 per game and contributed 2.0 assists and 49 steals to the Mavs cause. The sixth-year pro also clocked his most double-doubles in a season with eight, including a 20-point, 10-rebound effort in a win over Washington in January, where he also recorded a steal and a block.
1. Dwight Howard, Charlotte Hornets And Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons (TIE) – All-Snubbed First Team
We’ll lead this one off by saying that even at this advanced stage of his career, Superman is still bringing it, albeit for a mediocre Hornets squad. But, we couldn’t decide who to pick between him and much younger Pistons center Andre Drummond for All-Snubbed First Team. So we didn’t. Howard has had his share of accolades over his 14-year career, so we are adding another unofficial one, in that the sturdy former first overall pick scored and defended like a champ. He had his highest scoring output in four years with 16.6 points, which was 1.6 points higher that Drummond’s tally (they finished sixth and seventh among centers). Howard was also third in the NBA in rebounds with 12.5 and ninth in blocks with 1.62. Lastly, he was fourth in double-doubles with an admirable 53. As for Drummond, he too had a All-NBA first, second or third team worthy season, leading the league in rebounds with 16.0 per game. He was first among centers in steals with 1.46, eighth overall in the NBA in blocks with 1.63 and second in the league in double-doubles with 62. They both were robbed.