[ESPN]洛维:评选 2023-24 赛季全明星队、最佳防守阵容和最佳新秀阵容

由Gemini Pro人工智能翻译,译文内容可能不准确或不完整,以原文为准。

扎克·洛维,ESPN 高级撰稿人2024 年 4 月 19 日上午 8:00,美国东部时间

现在是我们的颁奖专栏的第二部分——全明星队、最佳新秀阵容和最佳防守阵容。如果你上周四错过了,这里有第一部分——包括 MVP 和所有个人奖项。全明星队

一队

卢卡·东契奇,达拉斯独行侠

谢伊·吉尔杰斯-亚历山大,俄克拉荷马城雷霆

尼古拉·约基奇,丹佛掘金

扬尼斯·阿德托昆博,密尔沃基雄鹿

杰森·塔图姆,波士顿凯尔特人

二队

贾伦·布伦森,纽约尼克斯

科怀·伦纳德,洛杉矶快船

安东尼·戴维斯,洛杉矶湖人

凯文·杜兰特,菲尼克斯太阳

勒布朗·詹姆斯,洛杉矶湖人

三队

安东尼·爱德华兹,明尼苏达森林狼

斯蒂芬·库里,金州勇士

德文·布克,菲尼克斯太阳

泰瑞斯·哈利伯顿,印第安纳步行者

杰伦·布朗,波士顿凯尔特人

• 前四个位置是肯定的。最后一队位置在塔图姆、布伦森和戴维斯之间产生。我在我的(理论上的)MVP 选票中将布伦森排在了第五位——在塔图姆的上方。在这里将他们颠倒过来反映了各自奖项所象征的不同——以及那个可塑的词“有价值”的强大力量。

考虑到塔图姆出色的防守,两人本赛季表现基本持平。布伦森在伤病导致赛季大部分时间失去三位首发球员的天赋较弱的球队中不得不多负重。这就是 MVP 投票中的有价值所在。

不考虑球队背景,塔图姆的体型和位置上的多才多艺——加上他的履历——使他成为一名略微更好的整体球员。这对于全明星队而言最重要。球队实力也会影响因素。波士顿远远领先于所有人;如果很接近——确实如此——它就应该获得最后一个一队位置。

第二队的头四个位置——布伦森、伦纳德、杜兰特、戴维斯——很容易确定。我猜想很多选民会让爱德华兹进入第二阵容,将勒布朗挤到第三阵容。很好。明尼苏达队比湖人队高出 9 场,只有一个球员——爱德华兹——跻身全明星队讨论前列,尽管鲁迪·戈贝尔至少值得考虑第三名。当爱德华兹休息时,明尼苏达队的进攻急转直下。他的爆发力更强,防守也比勒布朗更好。当爱德华兹在场时,森林狼队每 100 次控球能比对手多得 7.3 分——几乎是勒布朗在场时的湖人队净胜分 3.8 分的两倍。

从那里开始,爱德华兹优于勒布朗的完整论据会摇摆不定。他们平均获得相同数量的积分。勒布朗在大多数其他类别中都占据优势。投篮数据相差很大。勒布朗命中率为 54%——三分球命中率为 41%,两分球命中率为 59%。爱德华兹命中率为 46%——三分球命中率为 35.7%,两分球命中率为 51.5%。勒布朗在组织球员方面属于爱德华兹的高水平,这是可以预期的,因为爱德华兹 22 岁,而勒布朗是有史以来最伟大的组织球员之一。

爱德华兹是一位稍微更好的防守球员,并承担更艰巨的任务。但他的防守中仍然存在漏洞——请参见下一类奖项——勒布朗在这一点上可能被略微低估了。他老了(你听说过吗?)而且身体也不一样了,但他仍然很有迫力。他身高马大。他知道自己该在哪里以及什么时候。对方控球者知道当他发动引擎时,他能够做什么。这里有一种恐惧因素,仍然存在。

质疑取得 46 场胜利的湖人队在这里获得两名球员是公平的,而多支实力更强的球队——掘金、雷霆和森林狼——只获得一个名额。但詹姆斯和戴维斯的数字不可否认。湖人队到赛季结束时是一支优秀的球队。有些球队阵容过于庞大。森林狼更多地依靠防守获胜,而不是其他任何东西——戈贝尔向外辐射的集体努力。

• 爱德华兹滑到三队。剩下的过程很痛苦,尽管第二和第三的位置逐渐清晰起来。布克必须在名单中:27 分,7 次助攻,强硬的防守,扎实的投篮数据——命中率为 49%,三分球命中率为 36.4%,两分球命中率为 55%。当布克在没有杜兰特的情况下上场时,太阳队每 100 次控球比对手多得到 6 分。(他们也赢得了杜兰特上场/布克下场时的时间。)

太阳队得到两名球员没关系。他们赢了 49 场比赛。比尔缺席了三分之一的赛季。他们的阵容深度没有按计划实现。布克和杜兰特必须每晚做很多事情才能让这支球队获胜。布克缺席了 14 场比赛,但他上场时时间很长——每场比赛大约 36 分钟——以至于他在正确的出场时间范围中可以获得一个位置。

还剩大约 10 场比赛时,许多人想知道库里会不会错过全明星投票——这曾经是不可想象的。我敢打赌他会进入,但可能很接近。他逐渐衰落,勇士队——尽管以 27 比 12 结束——却始终无法摆脱第 10 名。

但即使在表现不佳的一年中,库里场均得到 26 分,三分球命中率为 40.8%,平均每场出手近 12 次。库里的比赛总是超越数字。他每场比赛出手 12 次三分球,但他的移动方式——总是上下起伏,寻找空位——几乎创造了库里每场比赛出手 30 次三分球的效果。他并不总是在投篮,但他总是有投篮的威胁——而且总是更换位置。这种游动重力是联盟从未见过的。库里每走一步都会改变对方防守的形态,伸展和弯曲它们,直到裂缝出现。詹姆斯·哈登吹嘘自己是“体系”。库里一直都是一个体系。当库里在场时,这项运动本身就是不同的。没有他,勇士队毫无头绪,并且毫无威胁——平庸。他在那里。

最后两个位置出现了真正的痛苦。他们归结为哈利伯顿、布朗、多曼塔斯·萨博尼斯和保罗·乔治——而泰瑞斯·马克西和德阿隆·福克斯紧随这四名球员之后。(除了这六个人之外,我认真考虑了二十多名球员——包括维克托·文班亚马——但仅这六个人真正组成最后一组。)

没有一个好的方法可以做到这一点。萨博尼斯是一个残忍的冷门。他打了全部 82 场比赛,仅次于德马尔·德罗赞,排名第二——总出场时间。他领跑联盟篮板数。他平均得到 8.2 次助攻——即使在约基奇的时代,对中锋来说也是荒谬的。他可以成为一支非常优秀的 NBA 进攻的核心——或至少是共同核心。

他在常规赛中坚韧不拔的本性——他的直接身体对抗和不懈推进的节奏——真的很有价值。他是一个很难对付的人。如果你不在状态——如果你累了,受伤了,那天晚上无论出于什么原因都不在状态——萨博尼斯将碾压你。他每天都在状态。

但当他必须为自己创造优势而无法得分时,他并不是一个超级高效的得分手。如果萨博尼斯是一名更好的跳投者——如果防守者必须把他逼离篮筐更远——那么制造自己的进攻会容易得多。本赛季他出手次数稍多了一些,但他在长两分和三分球上是一个低于平均水平且经常不愿意的射手。

当萨博尼斯在没有福克斯的情况下出场时,国王队整个赛季都被殴打。在那些时间段里,国王队每 100 次控球被对手多得分近 6 分——对于萨博尼斯身高的球员来说,这是一个非常大的数字,即使你考虑到国王队除了福克斯之外缺乏顶级分数创造。当布朗不在场时,凯尔特人队的表现更好,但他们仍然赢得了他在没有塔图姆的情况下出场的比赛,每 100 次控球得分为 8.4 分。

萨博尼斯是一个低于平均水平的防守球员

原文如下:

Lowe: Naming the 2023-24 All-NBA, All-Defense and All-Rookie teams

Zach Lowe, ESPN Senior WriterApr 19, 2024, 08:00 AM ET

It’s time for Part II of our awards column – the All-NBA, All-Rookie and All-Defensive teams. Here is Part I – with MVP and all the individual awards – if you missed it Thursday.ALL-NBA

First team

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Second team

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks

Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Kevin Durant, Phoenix Suns

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Third team

Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics

• The first four spots are a given. The final first-team spot came down to Tatum, Brunson and Davis. I had Brunson fifth – over Tatum – on my (theoretical) MVP ballot. Flipping them here reflects the difference in what the respective awards symbolize – and the power of that pliable word “valuable.”

Factoring in Tatum’s superior defense, the two had more or less equal seasons. Brunson had to do a bit more heavy lifting on a less talented team that lost three starters to injury for much of the season. That’s where valuable came in on the MVP ballot.

Remove team context, and Tatum’s size and positional versatility – plus his track record – make him a slightly better overall player. That’s what matters most for All-NBA. Team success factors in too. Boston ran away from everyone; if it’s close – and it is – it deserves the last first-team spot.

• The first four spots on the second team – Brunson, Leonard, Durant, Davis – were pretty easy. I suspect a lot of voters will have Edwards on the second team, shoving LeBron to third team. That’s fine. Minnesota finished nine games above the Lakers with only one player – Edwards – in the thick of the All-NBA conversation, though Rudy Gobert merits at least a look for third team. Minnesota’s offense fell off a cliff when Edwards rested. He’s more explosive and better than LeBron defensively. The Wolves outscored opponents by 7.3 points per 100 possessions with Edwards on the floor – almost double the Lakers’ plus-3.8 margin in LeBron’s minutes.

The full case for Edwards over LeBron wobbles from there. They averaged the same number of points. LeBron has him in most other categories. The shooting numbers are not close. LeBron hit 54% overall – 41% on 3s and 59% on 2s. Edwards shot 46% – 35.7% on 3s, 51.5% on 2s. LeBron is tiers above Edwards as a playmaker, which is to be expected given Edwards is 22 and LeBron is one of the greatest playmakers ever.

Edwards is a slightly better defender and takes more taxing assignments. But there are still holes in his defense – see the next awards category – and LeBron is probably a little underrated on that end at this point. He’s old (have you heard?) and not physically the same, but he’s still imposing. He’s big. He knows where to be and when. Opposing ball handlers know what he is capable of when he revs the engine. There is a fear factor there, still.

It’s fair to question the 46-win Lakers getting two players here when several superior teams – the Nuggets, Thunder and Wolves – nab only one spot apiece. But the numbers for James and Davis are undeniable. The Lakers by season’s end were a good team. Some teams are top-heavy. The Wolves won with defense more than anything – a collective effort that radiated outward from Gobert.

• Edwards slides to the third team. The rest of it was agonizing, though spots two and three gradually came into focus. Booker has to be on here: 27, seven dimes, rugged defense and solid shooting numbers – 49% overall, 36.4% on 3s and 55% on 2s. The Suns outscored opponents by six points per 100 possessions when Booker played without Durant. (They won the Durant-on/Booker-off minutes too.)

The Suns getting two guys is fine. They won 49 games. Beal missed a third of the season. Their depth did not pan out as planned. Booker and Durant had to do a ton every night for this team to win. Booker missed 14 games, but he played so much when available – about 36 minutes per game – that he’s in the right minutes ballpark to snag a spot.

With about 10 games left, a lot of folks wondered if Curry was going to miss the All-NBA ballot altogether – once unthinkable. I bet he makes it, but it might be close. He slumped toward the end, and the Warriors – despite a 27-12 finishing kick – could never extricate themselves from No. 10.

But even in a down year, Curry averaged 26 points and hit 40.8% from deep on almost 12 attempts per game. Curry’s game will always transcend numbers. He takes 12 3s per game, but the way he moves – always bobbing and weaving, searching out open pockets – almost creates the effect of Curry taking 30 3s per game. He’s not always shooting, but he’s always a threat to shoot – and always changing locations. That roving gravity is like nothing the league has ever seen. Curry alters the shape of opposing defenses with every step, stretching and bending them until fissures open. James Harden boasted of being “the system.” Curry has always been a system unto himself. The very sport is different when Curry is on the floor. The Warriors were rudderless and utterly nonthreatening – vanilla – without him. He’s in.

• True agony set in with the last two spots. They came down to Haliburton, Brown, Domantas Sabonis and Paul George – with Tyrese Maxey and De’Aaron Fox just a tick behind those four. (I gave serious consideration to two-dozen players beyond those six – including Victor Wembanyama – but those six alone really comprised the final group.)

There is no good way to do this. Sabonis is a brutal snub. He played all 82 games and finished second – behind only DeMar DeRozan – in total minutes. He led the league in rebounding. He averaged 8.2 dimes – ridiculous for a center, even in the age of Jokic. He can be the hub – or at least the co-hub – of a very good NBA offense.

His unrelenting nature – his blunt physicality and tireless pushing of the pace – is really valuable in the regular season. He is a pain to play against. If you are not on point – if you’re tired, banged up, just not into it that night for whatever reason – Sabonis mows through you. He is into it every night.

But he is not a superefficient scorer when he has to create for himself without an advantage. Sabonis would have a much easier time manufacturing his own offense were he a better jump-shooter – if defenders had to press him further from the basket. He launched a little more this season, but he’s a below-average and often reluctant shooter on long 2s and 3s.

The Kings got mauled all season in the minutes Sabonis played without Fox. Opponents outscored the Kings by almost six points per 100 possessions in those minutes – a really big number for a player of Sabonis’s stature, even when you factor in the Kings’ lack of top-level shot creation beyond Fox. The Celtics were better with Brown off the floor, but they still won the minutes he played without Tatum by 8.4 points per 100 possessions.

Sabonis is a below-average defender with limitations as a rim-protector. He makes up for a lot of that with smart footwork, sheer effort and pointy-elbowed rebounding. He needs a slightly more particular environment around him to achieve high-level team success. I suspect if you put Brown, George, Haliburton and Sabonis in “build a championship team” draft, Sabonis would go No. 4 – which, again, is not some insult. Sabonis might be player No. 16 on this theoretical All-NBA ballot. That’s pretty damned great.

• Haliburton was never the same after returning from a hamstring injury in late January, but in the 33 games before that setback he played at a first-team All-NBA level. He was one of the three or four best offensive players in the league – the undisputed conductor of the league’s No. 1 offense for much of the season.

In the second half of the season, Haliburton was merely good. That nets out to one of the final All-NBA spots. For 33 games – not quite half the season, but not far from it – Haliburton reached higher heights than any of these candidates. It’s not as if it totally wilted after that, either. He had some peppier games down the stretch as Indiana clinched a playoff spot. The Pacers finished No. 2 in points per possession and were miles better on offense with Haliburton on the floor. He sneaks in.

• I went back and forth between Brown, Sabonis and George for the last spot. Advanced metrics continue to say Brown is the wrong choice. They likely frown on Brown’s precarious playmaking. Even in his most stable passing season, Brown averaged 3.6 assists (about tied with George and way behind Sabonis) and 2.4 turnovers – a ho-hum ratio for an All-Star wing. George is the superior playmaker, even if the assist numbers don’t reflect that this season; he was the third ballhandling option in a slower, more hierarchical offense. Brown was the second option in a more egalitarian system.

George hit 41% on 3s; Brown was around league average – 35.4%. George is a splendid all-around player. He averaged 22.6 points, just behind Brown. (Sabonis averaged 19.4.)

But Brown nailed a hefty 57% on 2s, compared to 52% for George. Beyond that, Brown after a shaky first month calibrated his game to be precisely what the Celtics needed him to be. He improved his shot selection, got off the ball more readily and dialed up his defense to a career-best (by a lot) level. By letting go just a little, Brown found the best version of himself and allowed the Celtics to become who they were designed to be – a free-flowing, snappy scoring machine with rare defensive versatility.

George would still be a better No. 1 option than Brown in a pinch. He might still be the better player head-to-head. Sabonis had a larger burden in Sacramento and logged 600 more minutes. Boston doesn’t “have to have” two All-NBA honorees just because they won 64 games. They might have five top-50 players in Tatum, Brown, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. That is their real strength – unusual top-end depth.

If you asked 50 coaches and general managers to rank every player, Brown would almost certainly not be in the top 15. The top 20 might be a stretch. But several players who would likely land above him – Donovan Mitchell, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Wembanyama, this season’s Kyrie Irving, perhaps Trae Young and Jamal Murray depending on one’s tastes – did not play enough games to be eligible or (in Wembanyama’s case) toiled on awful teams. Another – Damian Lillard – had a down season.

Any of these final guys would be fine. You could make strong arguments for several players I haven’t mentioned yet – including Zion Williamson, Pascal Siakam, Adebayo, Paolo Banchero and others.

But amid a pool of flawed candidates who reside in the same general range, it felt right to reward a second Celtic after Boston’s dominant regular season.ALL-DEFENSIVE

First team

Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves

Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans

Second team

Derrick White, Boston Celtics

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls

Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic

Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves

Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers

As outlined in Part 1, the Gobert/Wembanyama/Davis trio comprised my theoretical Defensive Player of the Year ballot – with Adebayo barely missing that cut. They were (to my eyes) the league’s four best defenders this season.

The real competition started at that final first-team slot and coalesced around the league’s two best perimeter defenders: Jones and White. You cannot go wrong. White has inherited Dwyane Wade’s title as the world’s best shot-blocking guard. White challenged 3.8 shots per game at the basket. Opponents hit 57.4% in the restricted area when White was the nearest defender. There are centers that would be happy with those numbers.

White reads opposing offenses from one or two steps ahead and can adjust tactics on the fly without any blips of uncertainty. He is the best defender on the league’s No. 2 defense.

The advanced metrics love both players. In the end, I was persuaded by Jones’s size – 6-foot-8, compared to White at 6-4 – and the versatility that enables. (Jones has a 7-foot wingspan.) Jones is skinny, but he can slide across the positional spectrum a bit more easily.

Opponents averaged only 0.81 points on isolations against Jones – the 20th-stingiest figure among more than 300 players who defended at least 50 such plays, per Second Spectrum. (White allowed about one point per possession – in the middle of the pack.)

Jones is a little scarier leaping to contest jump shots – one reason (among many, including luck) the Pels have allowed a lower-than-expected field goal percentage on jumpers for the past two seasons. White is also surrounded by All-Defensive candidates: Holiday, Tatum and Brown. (Kristaps Porzingis and ol’ reliable Al Horford are very good too.) Jones is … very much not. The Pels would be in big trouble without him.

The toughest omissions were mostly bigs, starting with Brook Lopez. More than Giannis Antetokounmpo – also one of the final cuts – Lopez was the common denominator in Milwaukee’s best defensive lineups. Lopez was not as airtight barricading the rim wire-to-wire as in past seasons, but some of that was due to coaching chaos.

Isaiah Hartenstein deserves a deep look here too. He ranked toward the top in several advanced metrics, and was an expert playing the cat-and-mouse game on the pick-and-roll – baiting ball handlers into wayward passes and getting his hands on the ball. Opponents shot just 52.5% at the rim against Hartenstein, on par with the numbers for Gobert and Wembanyama. They averaged only 0.76 in isolations against Hartenstein – fifth lowest among all defenders.

Hartenstein was one of just 11 rotation players to average at least one steal and one block per game, according to Basketball-Reference. (That group also includes White, Wembanyama, Davis and Caruso. Adebayo and Draymond Green came very close; Green would have probably made one of these two teams had he met the 65-game criteria.)

I’d have no objection with Hartenstein appearing on either team. He ranks a tick below the four first-team bigs for me – not as physically dominant as the first three and not as nimble in space as Adebayo. (He’s also a little behind everyone but Wembanyama in minutes, and Wembanyama is on another level of dominance.)

In this new era of positionless voting, I liked the idea of crowding the first team with bigs and the second team with wings and guards. It reflects that the best bigs have the most impact on defense while also staying somewhat true to the realities of roster-building – i.e., that you need every position.

Right alongside Hartenstein on the big man chopping block: Aaron Gordon. That dude is a tank. He can guard both apex wing scorers and behemoth centers – rare malleability. He offers resistance at the rim and in the lane as a help defender. He is maybe a tad less comfortable chasing speedsters around the perimeter – hovering between the wing/guard and big positional archetypes.

This is just a brutal category. There are only 10 spots. I had Gordon a tick above the other Denver Nuggets candidate – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope is awesome – impossible to screen, tireless hounding point guards and wings all over the perimeter. He can guard up in size, though it starts to get a little dicey against the strongest wing bullies – the Leonard types.

It’s all splitting hairs. Most of the advanced numbers are a bit higher on Caruso, McDaniels, Suggs and Leonard. Those guys are a little more destructive to opposing offenses. It is a steady sort of destruction; they knock you sideways without gambling out of position. They don’t make mistakes.

Brown made huge strides – volunteering for the toughest assignments and making loud plays at the basket – but he’s still prone to the occasional lapse off the ball. (This is the weak point in Anthony Edwards’ case too. He’s coming for one of these spots, though. Isaac Okoro had a wonderful season, but he only started 42 games.)

Brown probably surpassed Tatum on defense and was right there with Holiday – an all-timer who guarded Joel freaking Embiid on purpose in one landmark game. Both fall just short here.

The Suggs/Caruso/Leonard/McDaniels foursome are in their own ways a bit more physically imposing and in-your-jersey disruptive than some who just missed the cut.

Caruso is a turnover-generating machine who is weirdly hard to move. The Bulls allowed 110.6 points per 100 possessions with Caruso on the floor – equivalent to Boston’s No. 2-ranked defense – and 117 when he rested. Suggs is an NFL safety out there. McDaniels is giant at 6-9, yet somehow able to guard superstar point guards – as well as power forwards. If it’s close, the tie should go to the team that led the league in defense all season.

For about half of this season, Leonard approached peak San Antonio Sharktopus mode – where it becomes dangerous to even bring the ball within a 15-foot radius of him. For the other half, he was merely good. That blend is enough to get him the 10th spot; Leonard’s peak is still higher than almost anyone else can reach.

The Thunder are the only team in the top six in points allowed per possession not represented here. That stinks. Gilgeous-Alexander is slithery destructive – he led the league in steals – but he’s a little less consistent, and the Thunder have the luxury of hiding him on less taxing assignments. Those go to Luguentz Dort and Jalen Williams. Both came very close. Both will likely make one of the official teams in the future. Williams may get there first. He guards everyone.

Chet Holmgren is way ahead of the curve, but not quite on the level of these other bigs – yet.ALL-ROOKIE

First team

Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets

Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors

Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat

Second team

Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks

Amen Thompson, Houston Rockets

Trayce Jackson-Davis, Golden State Warriors

Keyonte George, Utah Jazz

Cason Wallace, Oklahoma City Thunder

This was really a competition for the last two first-team spots, and the Jaquez-Podziemski duo has the right blend of production, efficiency (on the rookie curve) and minutes – with the bonus of playing important roles on good teams. Lively, Thompson and Jackson-Davis matched or even exceeded their production on a per-minute basis, but not by enough to make up for the gap in playing time.

Thompson came closest to snagging a first-team spot after exploding over Houston’s last 25 games. It’s fashionable to say Thompson is a reliable jumper away from being really good. I might put it this way: Thompson is so good at everything but shooting that Houston has to find major roles for him even if he never develops a jumper.

But injuries and competition prevented Thompson from seizing a steady role until about the 30-game mark. He finished about 600 minutes behind Podziemski and 750 behind Jaquez.

Lively and Jackson-Davis lag even further back. Both have been awesome in their roles. Lively provided steady two-way production as a starter and is a major plus backing up Daniel Gafford. Lively has a nice feel passing on the move and the perfect kind of nasty streak. Too many rolling bigs pass out of layups and hooks when they encounter smaller help defenders – kicking to shooters instead. Lively relishes overpowering those little guys.

Jackson-Davis helped stabilize Golden State’s paint defense, freeing Green to rove more. He is one of the league’s best offensive rebounders and has great chemistry in the two-man game with Klay Thompson.

But in many more minutes, Jaquez and Podziemski filled whatever gaps needed filling for solid teams. Sometimes, that meant scoring more; Jaquez has a crafty, forceful one-on-one game. Sometimes it meant dialing in on all the little things: extra passes, smart cuts, chest-to-chest defense, snaring extra possessions on the glass. These are two well-rounded players with old basketball souls.

The other rookies who logged at least 1,500 minutes and didn’t make either of my teams were Toumani Camara, Scoot Henderson, Bilal Coulibaly and Ausar Thompson. Camara ended up the toughest omission, with GG Jackson and a few others factoring in. (We see your late-season scoring push, Vasilije Micic!).

Jackson has intriguing potential but barely cracked 1,200 minutes on a tanktastic team. Gradey Dick finished in the same minutes range after spending much of the early season on the bench or in the G League. His last 30 games were encouraging, but not enough to crack this 10-man team. Camara is a switchable defender who can keep the machine moving on offense. He ended up at 33.7% on 3s after some deep slumps. The blurry outlines of a 3-and-D player are here.

Bilal Coulibaly might be even better on defense than Camara, with a little more juice on offense. It’s just hard to find room for extremely low-usage players on awful teams. Ausar Thompson did a bit more on offense and started 38 games for the Detroit Pistons. He has an argument to leapfrog Wallace and George, though he ended up logging only 1,583 minutes and hasn’t played since early March as he receives treatment for a blood clot.

Wallace made more of a low-usage role, scorching to 42% on 3s and playing solid defense on an elite team.

Every year there are a group of rookie guards who get tossed into the deep end on bad teams. They compile fat-counting stats in wildly inefficient fashion. Their candidacies are tricky. Couldn’t lots of rookies put up numbers if given the same chances? Then again, what kind of efficiency stats would these guys post in lesser roles on good teams?

There is always one that stands out when you look beyond the numbers – one who makes enough high-level NBA plays to make you say, “OK, yeah, that guy is going to be a player.” This year, that guard is George – above Henderson. George outshot Henderson on both 2s and 3s. More defenses honored the threat of George’s jumper, which in turn gave him access to more pick-and-roll reads – one-handed slingshots to corner shooters, change-of-pace drives, no-look lasers to bigs in the lane. You know it when you see it.

They were about even in assists. George had a lower turnover rate. He also played in semi-meaningful games before Utah pulled the plug. Henderson did not.

Henderson might pass a lot of these guys one day. Toss this weird, injury-interrupted season into the trash bin and move on. There is a lot to work with there – including some veteran change-of-pace and vision. But George gets the nod this season.

via ESPN