Can’t wait for the 2015-’16 season to start? We neither. Now that most of the off-season’s major moves are complete, we’ll dive into some ludicrously premature predictions for next season. We wrap up our series now with an early projection for who will be named to the three All-NBA Teams.
We made it. When we kicked off our Way-Too-Early NBA Predictions series back on July 21st, we were 99 days away from October 27th’s opening night. Now, we sit just two weeks away from training camps opening up league-wide. You can almost smell the freshly varnished hardwood.
So far, we’ve predicted how the East and West will shake out from top to bottom and wildly guessed who will take home the six major NBA Awards in the spring. It’s all been leading here – a selection of the 15 players who will shine brightest in 2015-’16, earn All-NBA status, and be the first points of reference when we recollect the coming season years down the road.
If you’ve been paying attention throughout this series, you probably have some idea of the names that will appear as you scroll down this page. There’s no need to re-hash what has been written about many of the players projected to be first, second or third-teamers; instead, I’ll include a quick blurb outlining the path each player will have to take in order to achieve All-NBA distinction.
Here’s a Way-Too-Early Prediction for who will land on the All-NBA teams at season’s end.
First Team All-NBA
G – Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Until an NBA coach can devise a defensive scheme to prevent Curry from taking over games with his shooting, the reigning MVP will maintain a firm grip on a First Team spot.
G – James Harden, Houston Rockets
The shooting guard position might have the shallowest depth of talent throughout the league, but Harden boosts the class average significantly. With less of a ball-handling burden on his shoulders, Harden’s shooting and scoring totals should creep up from last year’s MVP-runner-up levels.
F – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Last week I predicted LeBron to take home the MVP award, so he has to be on the first team, right?
F – Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Griffin might have had the best individual playoff series by any player not named LeBron last year. Chris Paul hit the game-winner against the Spurs, but Griffin was the multi-talented motor of the Clippers’ playoff effort. If he plays anything like he did in April, grabbing First Team honors should be a cinch.
C – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
This might be cheating since Davis was a First-Teamer at the power forward spot last year. But if the Pelicans are going to be among the league’s top offensive giants under Alvin Gentry this season, expect Davis to regularly play the five while Omer Asik rides the pine.
Second Team All-NBA
G – John Wall, Washington Wizards
If one of my earliest predictions holds true and the Wizards place second in the East, it will be because Wall exploited a more spacious floor under a new Randy Wittman system, and terrorized Eastern defenses.
G – Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Energized by a deeper supporting cast and a much-needed decrease from his almost 35 minute-per-night average, Paul’s startlingly consistent efficiency and all-world defense will stand out even more than usual.
F – Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Durant’s raw numbers may take a slight hit because of the bounty of mouths to feed in Oklahoma City. With his foot issues behind him though, he’ll have us in awe of his brilliance once again.
F – DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Cousins overcomes his issues with George Karl and finds himself leading one of the most surprising teams in the league, keeping the Kings in the playoff hunt far longer than most expect.
C – Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Gasol continues to anchor one of the NBA’s top defensive clubs and stands as the reason why the Grizz serve as a frightening first-round playoff foe for anyone in the West’s top tier.
Third Team All-NBA
G – Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
With Durant back in the line-up, we shouldn’t expect Westbrook to recreate the downright silly numbers he posted last season. But he’s too talented and too prolific to not be considered among the league’s 15 most luminous stars.
G – Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
The only All-NBAer from an abjectly terrible team, Lillard should contend for the NBA scoring title as the only legitimate offensive weapon on the rebuilding Blazers. He attempted the second most threes in the NBA last season behind Steph Curry (646-572); nipping on Curry’s heels in that department might be key to Lillard keeping the Blazers close in games.
F – Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
This feels like the season where it all comes together for Leonard. LaMarcus Aldridge is going to eat space and double-teams all season long, opening up ample room for this two-way stud to become the new face of the franchise.
F – Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
In the Finals, Green’s lack of consistency when asked to run Golden State’s offense from the top of the key was exposed. I’m not going to be the one who bets against him refining that aspect of his game and taking yet another leap.
C – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Drummond and Rudy Gobert battle back and forth all season for the Third-Team center spot, but Drummond’s superior touch around the rim, and (hopefully) upgraded defense earns him an All-NBA nod to go with his Most Improved Player trophy.
Missed any or all of Sean Woodley’s other Way-Too-Early-NBA Predictions? Read them here:
July 21 – The Top Five Teams in the East
July 28 – The Eastern Conference Playoff Bubble
August 4 – Dumpster Diving in the East
August 11 – The Bloodbath Atop the West
August 18 – The Playoff Bubble in the West
August 25 – The West’s Worst
September 1 – Wildy Guessing the Major Award Winners, Part 1
September 8 – Wildy Guessing the Major Award Winners, Part 2