The All-NBA teams have been released. These awards in theory identify the 15 best players in the league, but do to positional rules (each “team” must have 2 guards, 2 forwards and 2 centers) it tends to not be perfect. Besides, people are always going to disagree about who the best players in the league are- that’s part of the fun of these awards
You can see the full results here, but the most notable results for OKC: Russell Westbrook comfortably made the second team, while Paul George narrowly got the final spot on the third team.
Second team seems right for Russ. After a slow start where he seemed to be trying too hard to integrate George and Carmelo Anthony, attack mode Russ reemerged. He once again averaged a triple-double, although this season felt far less magical than the last- gone were the dramatic crunch time comeback wins that made OKC a playoff team last year- in their place, wins that felt far more like a slog. Still, Russ’ numbers were undeniable: 25 points per game on 45% shooting, 10.3 assists and 10.1 rebounds per game. Despite the much-discussed addition of superstar talent, OKC continued to bleed points whenever Russ sat. He once again was the engine that drove his team.
Still, he was nowhere near the force James Harden and Damian Lillard, the first-team guards, were and there’s an argument to be made that he was less effective than Steph Curry and Chris Paul as well- however those two guards missed significant chunks of the year with injuries, while Russ only missed two games all season. Russ earned his spot on the second team, and he clearly remains a top ten player in the league.
George received the least votes of anyone who made the all-NBA teams, and if Anthony Davis had been counted as a forward instead of a center, he wouldn’t have made it. Still, PG posted very good offensive numbers all season to pair with his usual top line defense- for stretches of January and February, PG, not Russ, was OKC’s best player. He faded at the end of the regular season however, and that trend unfortunately continued into the playoffs.
Steven Adams also received a little attention, getting two votes (out of a hundred) for third team. Adams has a way to go before becoming an All-NBA talent, but he was improved on both ends of the floor this year, upping his scoring and rebounding while continuing to do the dirty work of rim protection and screen-setting.
Westbrook and George both making All-NBA confirms that execution, not talent was the reason for the Thunder’s struggles this year. Two of the 15 best players in the league suited up in blue this year, but the team never became more than the sum of its parts. OKC now has to wait on Paul George’s free agency decision before finding out if they’ll have a chance to run it back next year.