Making the All-NBA Team doesn't happen by accident

Even Kobe knows that Jerry Sloan played 36.8 mpg in his second year.

I'm insane, because I see the obvious problem with our team being that . . . well . . . our best players (Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Devin Harris) just aren't good enough to carry a team in the playoffs. They all worked very hard and they are all super awesome people whom we love as fans of the team they all currently play for. But let's not confuse being likable with being good enough. Next season Paul and Devin will both be making second banana money (between $8m and 9m). That's fine. Al Jefferson is going to be making $15 million though, which is serious money in this new NBA. Especially for a small market team. As a result, Big Al needs to really improve on a number of problem points. Still, I think it's fair to say that all of our top guys are better suited to being 3rd or 4th best guys. Not 1st or 2nd best guys.

Who are the 1st or 2nd best guys, in a legit sense? Those would be the guys who make the All-NBA Teams. Not every team gets one, as we were blanked again. And not all teams that have one only have one. We know this first hand because we enjoyed the John Stockton / Karl Malone years. I think you can't seriously win in the league without at least two all-NBA guys. And we have none. I already went over how you get one . . . and I don't want to repeat myself. Instead I wanted to break down the All-NBA Team members. Are there common threads that we can see?

Well, the vast majority of them are first round draft picks, and the vast majority of those being lottery picks. The second thing, besides being drafted high, is that they are usually 'great' players at the NBA level. Duh. What makes you a great player? Production. What helps you produce? Confidence / being secure in your talents. How do you get this self-assurance? By having first hand experience at the NBA level. You feel confident in your ability to defend without fouling if you've done it a million times against NBA players. If you act nervous, and jumpy on defense the ref is going to call you for a foul - even if you didn't foul. Confidence is what makes you perform well. And if you are able to perform well you are a great player. If you are great, you get on the All-NBA Team. If you are on this team, you can help your team advance in the playoffs.

So, what's a great way to gain this first hand experience, this confidence in your game and your abilities? Oh, by getting playing time.

Homework:

Some insiders may say folksy 'drill-baby drill' sayings that play well on the radio but have no actual quantitative value. I did my homework. There are three All-NBA teams a year: the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd team. Each team has 5 members -- so for each year there are 15 spots to be filled by worthy (or unworthy) players. So in the last 15 seasons there have been 225 spots. Because some players have been selected to more than just one All-NBA Team you're not going to get a list of 225 players. Instead these 225 spots have been held by a grand total of 71 different players.

This group of 71 players is for the 2011-2012 All-NBA Teams all the way back to the 1997-1998 All-NBA teams. And the data from this group of 71 players is not cherry picked data. It's all the data. So you get every All-NBA player from Al Horford down to Zach Randolph. You'll get #1 picks like Yao Ming, and undrafted guys like Ben Wallace. And you'll get guys who played 5.8 mpg as a rookie like Michael Redd, and guys who played 40.1 mpg as a rookie like Allen Iverson.

And the data isn't just for their rookie seasons, we look at each of their first five seasons, and then also their cumulative five year totals.

It's a long list of players, and instead of typing it all out I'll just direct you to Basketball-Reference.com to see the full list. That's where I got the data from. I did my homework. And my homework checks out.

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The aggregate Minutes values:

  • Rookie Year: 29.2 mpg
  • Second Year: 33.4 mpg
  • Third Year: 35.9 mpg
  • Fourth Year: 36.1 mpg
  • Fifth Year: 36.7 mpg
  • Cumulative five year: 34.2 mpg

Instances = 225

Players = 71

NBA Seasons = 15

Total Games = 24,773

* Blake Griffin only has 2 of 5 years worth of data

** Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, and Russell Westbrook only have 4 of 5 years worth of data

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The Frequency:

Did you know that out of this list of 71 players, the last 225 All-NBA Team members, that they all pretty much got playing time from the get-go? They did. In their rookie years only 20 of 71 didn't play half a game (24.0 mpg) in each game they played. And of those 20, only 10 didn't play 24.0 mpg in their second seasons. And that number reduces to 3 in their third year. In fact there are only three players out of 71 who have five year cumulative totals of less than 24.0 mpg, and they are Andrew Bynum (drafted at age 17, and his is at 23.6 mpg), Jermaine O'Neal (draft at age 18, and is is at 16.8 mpg), and Ben Wallace (undrafted guy whose five year average if also 23.6 mpg).

All-NBA Team members pretty much all just ended up playing more as younger players -- and they banked that experience and confidence to become increasingly productive players. And when the going got tough, they'd make a withdrawl from their bank of experience - which helped them overcome obstacles. It's no doubt that these guys are All-NBA players, they played in a lot of games and played a lot of minutes. It's not rocket science. It's hands on training. No one learned how to ride a bike by watching other people ride a bike. No one learned how to perform open heart surgery like a boss by watching guys do it. If you want to be great, you gotta get on the floor. If you want your young guys to be great, you work your roster so they don't have anyone ahead of them.

Example: When the Lakers found out how good Kobe was they moved Eddie Jones pronto -- and his MPG went from 15.5 mpg to 26.0 mpg to 37.0 mpg. Oh, don't worry, it's exactly the same thing the Jazz did to Adrian Dantley when we found out how good Karl Malone was.

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I did not set up a null hypothesis to disprove:

But it's not like I can test against a soggy over-dipped cookie. Especially since I never heard any numbers thrown out. But 29.2 mpg, 33.4 mpg, 35.9 mpg, 36.1 mpg, and 36.7 mpg seem to say one thing. And that's if one of the major factors for becoming an All-NBA player is consistent EARLY minutes (and don't give me that made up construct of meaningful minutes -- Michael Jordan and Dwyane Wade didn't have many early on but they lead their teams to rings) -- then we're doing our current young players wrong. We're not giving them the chance to prove if they can be All-NBA players. And if we drafted guys who don't deserve big mins then the fault isn't on the players, but on our front office for failing in their draft selection.

"You just can't give young guys playing time they don't earn."

Well, you shouldn't also just keep young guys on the bench just because they're young. I already went over how John Stockton's production and efficiency in his ROOKIE and Soph year were just as good as in his fourth year. He could have started earlier. The only thing you accomplish by taking your lotto picks and putting them on the remedial development path is that you are screwing them over, making sure they have a less expensive first non-rookie contract -- and you also make your team lose more games while you kill yourself trying to find 27 mpg for Raja Bell and Josh Howard. Also, in this new NBA where players seem to pick who they play for, you also piss them off and make your own team look less attractive.

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Our kids vs. the 225 last All-NBA Team selections:

How do our kids stack up, in terms of minutes?

Well, I'm happy to report that Gordon Hayward made a big, necessary jump (thanks to the injuries to Raja Bell and Josh Howard). He played 91.3% of the minutes he should have been playing. Favors? only 63.5%. The other two guys, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter, are way below the grade. I can't expect Enes to play 33 mpg next year, but Alec needs to play at least 28 mpg (which puts him behind still). And yeah, Gordon and Favors need to both play 36+ mpg next year. And our front office should make the necessary moves to free up that time for them. Period.

Or else you know what'll happen? It won't be an accident if NONE of our lottery picks ever become All-NBA Team selections -- and that we'll never really advance in the playoffs to the heights that we advanced to before. It's more than just a minutes thing, it's a trust thing. I trust that our Front office drafted / traded for the right guys. It's up to the coach to trust in their abilities. And it's up to the players to get the minutes in order to bank that confidence so that they'll be high level performers.

Kanter's only going to have confidence in his mid-range jumper if he's seen it go in, during games. Hayward's only going to have confidence in his three in the same way. Burks is only going to have confidence on defense if he's defended other guys through screens and off the bounce -- and not fouled. And Favors is only going to have the confidence to dominate if that thing clicks in him mind where he knows he's better than everyone else on the floor - and just goes up to dunk on guys.

These are my conclusions based upon being a cognitive behaviorist, and a mathematician who looked at the minutes numbers. Sure, some guys ended up playing little in their first 5 years who still made it to the All-NBA Team. But the other 68 of the 71 guys did not. They got the minutes. They got the experience. They got the banked confidence. And they performed well enough to help their team win games. And we saw our Top three guys were unable to do that in the playoffs.

I'm not hating. I love all the guys on the team not named Raja and Josh. I'm just pointing out facts. If you want to disagree with me do it based on facts. Our future can be brighter than our present if we see the gems we have and polish them.

That's a better analogy than cookies. Gems take time, you have to put the work in, and then they become both brilliant and priceless in rare cases. Lottery picks are gems. And we have four.

Redneck-repairs-17_medium

Fix the problem. Only an idiot doesn't know how to eat cookies w/o making them soggy. Don't be an idiot. Play the younger guys if you want them to be future All-NBA Team members, and thus, capable of helping our team advance deep in the playoffs.

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Data Set:

All-NBA Rookie Year 2nd Year 3rd Year 4th Year 5th Year Five Year Totals
Players Teams Mins G MPG Mins G MPG Mins G MPG Mins G MPG Mins G MPG Mins G MPG
Al Horford 1 2540 81 31.4 . 2242 67 33.5 . 2845 81 35.1 . 2704 77 35.1 . 348 11 31.6 . 10679 317 33.7
Allen Iverson 7 3045 76 40.1 . 3150 80 39.4 . 1990 48 41.5 . 2853 70 40.8 . 2979 71 42.0 . 14017 345 40.6
Alonzo Mourning 2 2644 78 33.9 . 2018 60 33.6 . 2941 77 38.2 . 2671 70 38.2 . 2320 65 35.7 . 12594 350 36.0
Amare Stoudemire 5 2570 82 31.3 . 2025 55 36.8 . 2889 80 36.1 . 50 3 16.7 . 2689 82 32.8 . 10223 302 33.9
Andrew Bogut 1 2348 82 28.6 . 2258 66 34.2 . 2720 78 34.9 . 1124 36 31.2 . 2229 69 32.3 . 10679 331 32.3
Andrew Bynum 1 338 46 7.3 . 1793 82 21.9 . 1008 35 28.8 . 1446 50 28.9 . 1977 65 30.4 . 6562 278 23.6
Antonio McDyess 1 2280 76 30.0 . 2565 74 34.7 . 2441 81 30.1 . 1937 50 38.7 . 2698 81 33.3 . 11921 362 32.9
Baron Davis 1 1523 82 18.6 . 3192 82 38.9 . 3318 82 40.5 . 1889 50 37.8 . 2686 67 40.1 . 12608 363 34.7
Ben Wallace 5 197 34 5.8 . 1124 67 16.8 . 1231 46 26.8 . 1959 81 24.2 . 2760 80 34.5 . 7271 308 23.6
Blake Griffin 1 3112 82 38.0 . 2392 66 36.2 . #DIV/0! . #DIV/0! . #DIV/0! . 5504 148 37.2
Brandon Roy 2 2015 57 35.4 . 2792 74 37.7 . 2903 78 37.2 . 2419 65 37.2 . 1310 47 27.9 . 11439 321 35.6
Carlos Boozer 1 2049 81 25.3 . 2592 75 34.6 . 1772 51 34.7 . 1025 33 31.1 . 2557 74 34.6 . 9995 314 31.8
Carmelo Anthony 5 2995 82 36.5 . 2608 75 34.8 . 2941 80 36.8 . 2486 65 38.2 . 2806 77 36.4 . 13836 379 36.5
Chauncey Billups 3 2216 80 27.7 . 1488 45 33.1 . 305 13 23.5 . 1790 77 23.2 . 2355 82 28.7 . 8154 297 27.5
Chris Bosh 1 2510 75 33.5 . 3017 81 37.2 . 2751 70 39.3 . 2658 69 38.5 . 2425 67 36.2 . 13361 362 36.9
Chris Paul 4 2808 78 36.0 . 2353 64 36.8 . 3006 80 37.6 . 3002 78 38.5 . 1712 45 38.0 . 12881 345 37.3
Chris Webber 5 2438 76 32.1 . 2067 54 38.3 . 558 15 37.2 . 2806 72 39.0 . 2809 71 39.6 . 10678 288 37.1
David Robinson 3 3002 82 36.6 . 3095 82 37.7 . 2564 68 37.7 . 3211 82 39.2 . 3242 80 40.5 . 15114 394 38.4
Deron Williams 2 2307 80 28.8 . 2950 80 36.9 . 3059 82 37.3 . 2505 68 36.8 . 2802 76 36.9 . 13623 386 35.3
Derrick Rose 1 3000 81 37.0 . 2871 78 36.8 . 3026 81 37.4 . 1375 39 35.3 . #DIV/0! . 10272 279 36.8
Dikembe Mutombo 3 2716 71 38.3 . 3029 82 36.9 . 2853 82 34.8 . 3100 82 37.8 . 2713 74 36.7 . 14411 391 36.9
Dirk Nowitzki 12 958 47 20.4 . 2938 82 35.8 . 3125 82 38.1 . 2891 76 38.0 . 3117 80 39.0 . 13029 367 35.5
Dwight Howard 7 2670 82 32.6 . 3121 82 38.1 . 3023 82 36.9 . 3088 82 37.7 . 2821 79 35.7 . 14723 407 36.2
Dwyane Wade 6 2126 61 34.9 . 2974 77 38.6 . 2892 75 38.6 . 1931 51 37.9 . 1954 51 38.3 . 11877 315 37.7
Eddie Jones 1 1981 64 31.0 . 2184 70 31.2 . 2998 80 37.5 . 2910 80 36.4 . 1881 50 37.6 . 11954 344 34.8
Elton Brand 1 2999 81 37.0 . 2906 74 39.3 . 3020 80 37.8 . 2454 62 39.6 . 2670 69 38.7 . 14049 366 38.4
Gary Payton 5 2244 82 27.4 . 2549 81 31.5 . 2548 82 31.1 . 2881 82 35.1 . 3015 82 36.8 . 13237 409 32.4
Gilbert Arenas 3 1155 47 24.6 . 2866 82 35.0 . 2066 55 37.6 . 3274 80 40.9 . 3384 80 42.3 . 12745 344 37.0
Glen Rice 1 2311 77 30.0 . 2646 77 34.4 . 3007 79 38.1 . 3082 82 37.6 . 2999 81 37.0 . 14045 396 35.5
Grant Hill 3 2678 70 38.3 . 3260 80 40.8 . 3147 80 39.3 . 3294 81 40.7 . 1852 50 37.0 . 14231 361 39.4
Hakeem Olajuwon 1 2914 82 35.5 . 2467 68 36.3 . 2760 75 36.8 . 2825 79 35.8 . 3024 82 36.9 . 13990 386 36.2
Jamal Mashburn 1 2896 79 36.7 . 2980 80 37.3 . 667 18 37.1 . 2164 69 31.4 . 1729 48 36.0 . 10436 294 35.5
Jason Kidd 6 2668 79 33.8 . 3034 81 37.5 . 1967 55 35.8 . 3118 82 38.0 . 2060 50 41.2 . 12847 347 37.0
Jermaine O'Neal 3 458 45 10.2 . 808 60 13.5 . 310 35 8.9 . 659 70 9.4 . 2641 81 32.6 . 4876 291 16.8
Joe Johnson 1 1916 77 24.9 . 2255 82 27.5 . 3331 82 40.6 . 3240 82 39.5 . 3340 82 40.7 . 14082 405 34.8
John Stockton 1 1490 82 18.2 . 1935 82 23.6 . 1858 82 22.7 . 2842 82 34.7 . 3171 82 38.7 . 11296 410 27.6
Karl Malone 4 2475 81 30.6 . 2857 82 34.8 . 3198 82 39.0 . 3126 80 39.1 . 3122 82 38.1 . 14778 407 36.3
Kevin Durant 3 2768 80 34.6 . 2885 74 39.0 . 3239 82 39.5 . 3038 78 38.9 . 2546 66 38.6 . 14476 380 38.1
Kevin Garnett 9 2293 80 28.7 . 2995 77 38.9 . 3222 82 39.3 . 1780 47 37.9 . 3243 81 40.0 . 13533 367 36.9
Kevin Love 1 2048 81 25.3 . 1714 60 28.6 . 2611 73 35.8 . 2145 55 39.0 . #DIV/0! . 8518 269 31.7
Kobe Bryant 14 1103 71 15.5 . 2056 79 26.0 . 1896 50 37.9 . 2524 66 38.2 . 2783 68 40.9 . 10362 334 31.0
LaMarcus Aldridge 1 1392 63 22.1 . 2649 76 34.9 . 3004 81 37.1 . 2922 78 37.5 . 3211 81 39.6 . 13178 379 34.8
LeBron James 8 3122 79 39.5 . 3388 80 42.4 . 3361 79 42.5 . 3190 78 40.9 . 3027 75 40.4 . 16088 391 41.1
Manu Ginobili 2 1431 69 20.7 . 2260 77 29.4 . 2193 74 29.6 . 1813 65 27.9 . 2060 75 27.5 . 9757 360 27.1
Michael Jordan 1 3144 82 38.3 . 451 18 25.1 . 3281 82 40.0 . 3311 82 40.4 . 3255 81 40.2 . 13442 345 39.0
Michael Redd 1 35 6 5.8 . 1417 67 21.1 . 2316 82 28.2 . 3021 82 36.8 . 2848 75 38.0 . 9637 312 30.9
Mitch Richmond 1 2717 79 34.4 . 2799 78 35.9 . 3027 77 39.3 . 3095 80 38.7 . 1728 45 38.4 . 13366 359 37.2
Pau Gasol 3 3007 82 36.7 . 2948 82 36.0 . 2458 78 31.5 . 1790 56 32.0 . 3135 80 39.2 . 13338 378 35.3
Paul Pierce 4 1632 48 34.0 . 2583 73 35.4 . 3120 82 38.0 . 3302 82 40.3 . 3096 79 39.2 . 13733 364 37.7
Peja Stojakovic 1 1025 48 21.4 . 1749 74 23.6 . 2905 75 38.7 . 2649 71 37.3 . 2450 72 34.0 . 10778 340 31.7
Rajon Rondo 1 1831 78 23.5 . 2306 77 29.9 . 2642 80 33.0 . 2963 81 36.6 . 2527 68 37.2 . 12269 384 32.0
Ray Allen 2 2532 82 30.9 . 3287 82 40.1 . 1719 50 34.4 . 3070 82 37.4 . 3129 82 38.2 . 13737 378 36.3
Reggie Miller 1 1840 82 22.4 . 2536 74 34.3 . 3192 82 38.9 . 2972 82 36.2 . 3120 82 38.0 . 13660 402 34.0
Rod Strickland 1 1358 81 16.8 . 2140 82 26.1 . 2076 58 35.8 . 2053 57 36.0 . 2474 78 31.7 . 10101 356 28.4
Metta World Peace 1 2238 72 31.1 . 2363 76 31.1 . 1642 55 29.9 . 2317 69 33.6 . 2714 73 37.2 . 11274 345 32.7
Russell Westbrook 2 2668 82 32.5 . 2813 82 34.3 . 2847 82 34.7 . 2331 66 35.3 . #DIV/0! . 10659 312 34.2
Sam Cassell 1 1122 66 17.0 . 1882 82 23.0 . 1682 61 27.6 . 1714 61 28.1 . 2606 75 34.7 . 9006 345 26.1
Scottie Pippen 1 1650 79 20.9 . 2413 73 33.1 . 3148 82 38.4 . 3014 82 36.8 . 3164 82 38.6 . 13389 398 33.6
Shaquille O'Neal 10 3071 81 37.9 . 3224 81 39.8 . 2923 79 37.0 . 1946 54 36.0 . 1941 51 38.1 . 13105 346 37.9
Shawn Marion 2 1260 51 24.7 . 2857 79 36.2 . 3109 81 38.4 . 3373 81 41.6 . 3217 79 40.7 . 13816 371 37.2
Stephon Marbury 2 2324 67 34.7 . 3112 82 38.0 . 1895 49 38.7 . 2881 74 38.9 . 2557 67 38.2 . 12769 339 37.7
Steve Nash 7 684 65 10.5 . 1664 76 21.9 . 1269 40 31.7 . 1532 56 27.4 . 2387 70 34.1 . 7536 307 24.5
Tim Duncan 13 3204 82 39.1 . 1963 50 39.3 . 2875 74 38.9 . 3174 82 38.7 . 3329 82 40.6 . 14545 370 39.3
Tim Hardaway 2 2663 79 33.7 . 3215 82 39.2 . 3332 81 41.1 . 2609 66 39.5 . 2321 62 37.4 . 14140 370 38.2
Tony Parker 2 2267 77 29.4 . 2774 82 33.8 . 2577 75 34.4 . 2735 80 34.2 . 2715 80 33.9 . 13068 394 33.2
Tracy McGrady 7 1179 64 18.4 . 1106 49 22.6 . 2462 79 31.2 . 3087 77 40.1 . 2912 76 38.3 . 10746 345 31.1
Tyson Chandler 1 1389 71 19.6 . 1827 75 24.4 . 782 35 22.3 . 2189 80 27.4 . 2121 79 26.8 . 8308 340 24.4
Vin Baker 1 2560 82 31.2 . 3361 82 41.0 . 3319 82 40.5 . 3159 78 40.5 . 2944 82 35.9 . 15343 406 37.8
Vince Carter 2 1760 50 35.2 . 3126 82 38.1 . 2979 75 39.7 . 2385 60 39.8 . 1471 43 34.2 . 11721 310 37.8
Yao Ming 5 2382 82 29.0 . 2692 82 32.8 . 2447 80 30.6 . 1949 57 34.2 . 1624 48 33.8 . 11094 349 31.8
Zach Randolph 1 238 41 5.8 . 1301 77 16.9 . 3067 81 37.9 . 1603 46 34.8 . 2545 74 34.4 . 8754 319 27.4
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