Last week the NBA released their list of All-NBA Team members. Here's how they do it:
"The All-NBA Teams were chosen by a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The media voted for All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams by position with points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis. Below are the results of the voting for the 2012-13 All-NBA Teams, with First Team votes in parentheses. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP." - NBA.com
So, it's interesting how some guys can just kill it because of universal appeal, while you do get your homer picks that skew the data. What's more interesting to me is that out of all the guys who did get votes -- not all of them were recognized super stars, not all of them were lottery picks, and of course, not all of them played 2-3 years in the NCAA before making big jumps in the NBA. What I did here was to look at all of their NBA games (regular season and playoffs combined), and found out what their career averages are for Minutes per game and Minutes per season. I also looked at what they did in their cumulative first three seasons in the league.
As a result, we get values for their careers and just the beginning of their careers. It may not be a damn surprise to anyone that all of these guys who get All-NBA Team votes are good players. How did they become good players? I don't know. Maybe that's just how God made them, right? Or maybe they make themselves with good discipline and lots and lots of hard work in the gym? I've never made an All-NBA Team, so maybe I don't know jack.
What I do know is that I'm beginning to suspect that our younger guys are never going to make it to this level, not based upon the average experience level of the guys who do make it here.
2012-2013 All-NBA Forwards:
Here's how the voting went, and you can see which guys made it.
|All-NBA Forwards 2012-2013||Votes||Career (Reg + Playoffs)||First 3 Years (Reg + Playoffs)||NCAA||Player Age|
|1st Team||LeBron James||MIA||595||119||10||892||35,856||40.2||3585.6||3||251||10,475||41.7||3491.7||0||28||19|
|1st Team||Kevin Durant||OKC||555||102||6||515||19,870||38.6||3311.7||3||247||9,377||38.0||3125.7||1||24||19|
|2nd Team||Carmelo Anthony||NYK||397||24||10||779||28,435||36.5||2843.5||3||251||9,060||36.1||3020.0||1||28||19|
|2nd Team||Blake Griffin||LAC||132||0||3||245||8,653||35.3||2884.3||3||245||8,653||35.3||2884.3||2||24||22|
|3rd Team||David Lee||GSW||79||0||8||583||18,786||32.2||2348.3||3||206||5,216||25.3||1738.7||4||30||23|
|3rd Team||Paul George||IND||73||0||3||237||7,327||30.9||2442.3||3||237||7,327||30.9||2442.3||2||23||21|
|14||Kenneth Faried||DEN||3||0||2||138||3,622||26.2||1811.0||2 *||138||2,622||26.2||1811.0||4||23||22|
|Totals / Averages||153||11715||418,349||35.7||2734.3||53||4032||128,348||31.8||2421.7||1.7||28.1||20.6|
|Just All-NBA Team||40||3247||118,758||36.6||2969.0||18||1435||50,025||34.9||2779.2||1.7||26.2||20.5|
Wow, the only guys who really played few minutes per season in their first three years were David Lee, Zach Randolpoh, and David West. For David West let's remember that he was injured for most of his second season, and missed out on a lot of minutes there. Zach was on a team with a ton of forwards. And David was injury prone as well. The other notable non-minute getter (as seen in minutes per season in their first three years) is Faried -- who has played only 2 of the required 3 seasons. (So his MPS is going to go up as he gets more mins next year) The best players in this section were pushing 3k minutes per season in their first three years. That's a lot. The averages for this entire group for the first three years is 2.4k minutes per season, and for just the all-nba team members it goes up to 2.8k.
For their careers the All-NBA team members are right there at 3.0k minutes per season. The guys who are the best play the most minutes. And they were good enough and had the trust from their coaches to come out of the womb playing the most minutes. If you look at the guys who made the All-NBA Team as forwards, only 2 of the 6 game into the league at the age of 22 or older, while 3 where teens. So do we just write this off as once in a generation talent skewing the data a bit? Perhaps.
Whatever you want to call it, the AVERAGES show that these guys played early, often, and got better than they started off as, when they were rookies. Is that just minutes, or are minutes a consequence of actually being good? Who knows? But for this group (n = 18), it's 2.4k mins on average over their first three years in the league, and 2.8k for the ones who make the All-NBA Team.
I will point out that Faried, again, will have bigger numbers in this if I re-do this list next year because he's so young he's only been in the league for two seasons. George and Blake have only played three, so we can assume that they're going to get better still. But they only played 2 years of college and played so much at a young age you can't help but wonder why this is. Are they just projecting to be better players (Blake was a #1 pick), or is it just luck at play here?
2012-2013 All-NBA Centers:
Here's how the voting went, and you can see which guys made it.
|All-NBA centers 2012-2013||Votes||Career (Reg + Playoffs)||First 3 Years (Reg + Playoffs)||NCAA||Player Age|
|1st Team||Tim Duncan||SAS||392||45||16||1384||49,339||35.6||3083.7||3||245||9,675||39.5||3225.0||4||37||22|
|2nd Team||Marc Gasol||MEM||295||38||5||412||14,133||34.3||2826.6||3||245||8,095||33.0||2698.3||0||28||24|
|3rd Team||Dwight Howard||LAL||203||17||9||758||27,565||36.4||3062.8||3||250||8,881||35.5||2960.3||0||27||19|
|15||Nikola Vucevic||ORL||1||0||2||129||3,374||26.2||1687.0||2 *||129||3,374||26.2||1687.0||0||22||21|
|Totals / Averages||114||8819||286,032||32.4||2509.1||44||3363||97,684||29.0||2220.1||1.2||28.0||21.3|
|Just All-NBA Team||30||2550||90,871||35.6||3029.0||9||74||26,651||36.0||2961.2||1.3||30.7||21.7|
There are only three spots for centers, and it's funny to see Tim Duncan here, while he's usually listed as a forward for other things. Oh well, you can't fight city hall. Duncan was the only All-NBA center to even play in the NCAA, and he played for all four years. He was ready to contribute right out of the gate, and he did with 3.2k minutes per season over his first three years. Marc and Dwight are funny cases, but they all were above 2.5k minutes per season in their early days.
Gasol played pro in Europe, and Dwight was just a freak. So I understand how they played so much so early. Of note here is that the guys who seemed to have played 1.5k or less in their early developmental years never learned a complete game -- the guys who are in this batch who played 1.5k or less are either only good at defense, or offense. The guys who played more are more well rounded. But again, is this because they have a better inherent quality to them, or did they just get more time and experience to become better players in the game DURING the games? The outlier here is Nikola Pekovic, but time will tell us more about him.
2012-2013 All-NBA Guards:
Here's how the voting went, and you can see which guys made it.
|All-NBA Guards 2012-2013||Votes||Career (Reg + Playoffs)||First 3 Years (Reg + Playoffs)||NCAA||Player Age|
|1st Team||Chris Paul||LAC||537||97||8||595||21,861||36.7||2732.6||3||234||8,653||37.0||2884.3||2||28||20|
|1st Team||Kobe Bryant||LAL||521||91||17||1459||54,031||37.0||3178.3||3||228||5,723||25.1||1907.7||0||34||18|
|2nd Team||Russell Westbrook||OKC||306||20||5||439||15,205||34.6||3041.0||3||269||9,178||34.1||3059.3||2||24||20|
|2nd Team||Tony Parker||SAS||273||16||12||1038||34,730||33.5||2894.2||3||278||9,159||32.9||3053.0||0||31||19|
|3rd Team||James Harden||HOU||253||5||4||347||10,388||29.9||2597.0||3||263||7,160||27.2||2386.7||2||23||20|
|3rd Team||Dwyane Wade||MIA||145||3||10||786||29,368||37.4||2936.8||3||263||10,032||38.1||3344.0||2||31||22|
|11||Kyrie Irving||CLE||3||0||2||110||3,606||32.8||1803.0||2 *||110||3,606||32.8||1803.0||1||21||19|
|Totals / Averages||104||8389||294,420||35.1||2831.0||41||3295||107,067||32.5||2611.4||1.9||27.1||20.3|
|Just All-NBA Team||56||4660||165,422||35.5||2954.0||18||1535||49,905||32.5||2772.5||1.3||28.5||19.8|
First thing first, Kobe played in a lockout year and his average minutes per season is under the 2k mark as a result. But you can count him as an outlier if you want. It's the game thing with a lot of these young guards like Steph and Kyrie who also had one of their first three years be lockout years. It makes it look like they weren't playing a ton of minutes -- when if you adjust for 82 game seasons Kobe, Steph, and Kyrie all would have ended up playing a ton. Of course, Steph is injury prone, Kyrie isn't an ironman, and Kobe was playing off the bench his first two years. So you can argue this anyway you want.
But our of all 14 of these guys the AVERAGE was 2.6k minutes per season, over their first three seasons. Even if they weren't perfect players, they still got chances to improve on the court. Some guys make the best of that.
NCAA Experience / Rookie Season Age:
For the All-NBA Team Members 10 of the 15 people selected played in the NCAA. Only two were seniors before going to the NBA (David Lee, Tim Duncan), and the other 8 all played two or fewer years at the collegiate level. The average experience was only 1.47 years in the NCAA. The average rookie season age was 20.47 years old, and the oldest was Marc who was a pro in Europe before coming over to the NBA.
We hold to the idea that the best talents leave school early -- because they can. They don't *need* four years of NCAA experience to earn the right to be drafted in the NBA. As a result, we carry that forward that the best talents are on teams that can afford to play them early. And then they do play, and their rise to reach their potential is faster than players on good teams who don't get a lot of playing time.
This only makes sense, right? So if you are potentially great you'll not need a lot of college, join the NBA at a younger age, play on a bad team, and get better faster because of more direct experience. That seems to be the cast with the most of these guys -- the All-NBA Teamers who start off on bad teams don't seem to even sniff the playoffs until their 3rd or 4th year in the NBA.
Playoff experience is good if you can get it, but I don't think not making the playoffs early made King James or the Durantula bad. While making the playoffs early didn't make Melo better. Melo also had NCAA experience and success that those two guys did not have either. Maybe we're moving towards the idea that the best players are just the best players -- regardless of how they get to the NBA?
Bringing this back to the Jazz:
I like Favors, Hayward, Kanter, and Burks. But I'm beginning to think they are going to have a really rough time ever being All-Stars or All-NBA players right now. They're quantitatively not on the trajectory that these other guys were on. Very few guys come out of nowhere to become great in their 4th, 5th, or 6th seasons after being after thoughts in their first three. (And yes, our guys are national after thoughts as only Hayward was selected to the Rookie/Soph game, Favors was an injury replacement -- and the other two fellers didn't even make it)
We're hoping for huge jumps from them, somewhat precipitated by the promise of increased playing time. (I'll believe it when I see it.) But they are behind the minutes curve, and I think I've shown new data in many different ways with a number of sample sizes that seem to all suggest that they are.
But hey, let's go nuts one more time.
|Younger Jazz Players||Votes||Career (Reg + Playoffs)||First 3 Years (Reg + Playoffs)||NCAA||Player Age|
|Alec Burks||UTA||0||0||2||127||2,139||16.8||1069.5||2 *||127||2,139||16.8||1069.5||2||20||21|
|Enes Kanter||UTA||0||0||2||140||1,995||14.3||997.5||2 *||140||1,995||14.3||997.5||0||19||21|
Hayward is the only guy who is *there* ish in terms of the necessary on court experience needed to show up and shine. He's still inconsistent with his shot. But he's a two way player. The jury is still out on the other three. Burks and Kanter fall in that Faried zone where they've only played 2 years in that 3 year period. So their numbers will rise. But they'd have to rise a lot if they want to get back in the picture.
Favors is the big question mark. He has elite athleticism, very solid size, and better defensive instincts than so many people older than him. I do think trying to shoe horn him into that "next Tyson Chandler" mode is silly though. Chandler didn't have a turn around jumper from the post like Favors showed this year. Favors could be one of those outlier players who end up being All-NBA Team vote-getter down the line because of the combination of his youth, and ability. We believe that the best players go to the worst teams, and he went to the Nets at #3. He was picked there for a few reasons -- one of them being that he was supposed to turn out to be a really good player.
He can. And I'd love to see it. So here's to holding out that the guy who averaged 21.5 mpg in his first three years in the league only averaged that because of mismanagement by the team front office and coaches, and not because he's never going to reach his potential.
Putting it all together:
So how do our guys match up with the rest of the All-NBA Team vote getters, when you look at their first three years in the league?
|37||Kenneth Faried||DEN||2 *||138||2,622||26.2||1811.0|
|39||Kyrie Irving||CLE||2 *||110||3,606||32.8||1803.0|
|41||Nikola Vucevic||ORL||2 *||129||3,374||26.2||1687.0|
|50||Alec Burks||UTA||2 *||127||2,139||16.8||1069.5|
|51||Enes Kanter||UTA||2 *||140||1,995||14.3||997.5|
Who is that D-Will guy, and which team played him all those minutes? Seriously? He played 3.1k minutes a year in his first three years on average? That was Utah? What the heck? Yeah. Gordo clocks in at #36 on that list, Favors at #43, and the last two are Burks and Kanter. It's interesting to look at the guys by rank and see what kind of players fall into those rank spots.
The Top 10 are all franchise players, Top 15 more of the same, but more second bananas. But the farther down you go the stranger it gets. Did these guys just not get the minutes because of situation? Gypsy curse? Or where they not good? Kobe is right above Gordon, for example.
Minutes don't mean everything, especially if you look at the whole list. Let's try to apples to apples this mess a bit.
Let's look at just the bigmen (power forwards and centers), and then just the wings. (We don't have any PGs right now that need to be compared)
|16||Kenneth Faried||DEN||2 *||138||2,622||26.2||1811.0|
|19||Nikola Vucevic||ORL||2 *||129||3,374||26.2||1687.0|
|28||Enes Kanter||UTA||2 *||140||1,995||14.3||997.5|
Okay, so our dudes are still at the bottom. But there's hope. If guys like Zach and West can make it, maybe so can our dudes? What about our wings?
|14||Alec Burks||UTA||2 *||127||2,139||16.8||1069.5|
Oh. Well, the good news is that our bigmen could make it still!
Jokes aside, our greatest hopes are Hayward (the only guy who HAS gotten minutes), Favors (the phenom with great defensive instincts and athleticism), and Kanter (the young, raw, guy with a real NBA body). Burks is out. Right now I'm thinking that if he can work on his jumper he can be Kendall Gill (Sonics, not Nets or Hornets). But it will take him a while to get there.
It's interesting to see how these guys who are at the top of the mountain got there. They seem to have gotten there because they were good players who worked hard while dealing with losing seasons early on in their careers. They also all played over 2k minutes per season, over their first three seasons in the NBA universally -- except for the outliers of Kobe, or Zach. The other end of the spectrum also exists in the high experience guys like Tim playing big minutes, and the zero experience guys (straight out of HS) playing big minutes.
There's no one path to the NBA. And there's no one path to the All-NBA Team. But whatever path that you take, it's almost assuredly harder if you don't get to play.