It’s playoff time already for the 2002 NBA season. I’ve made my selections for first and second team, All-NBA:
Point Guard: Jason Kidd – Was there really any question? Kidd is the best point guard in the league. He does it all for his team. He scores when he needs to (14.7 points per game), runs the offense by distributing the ball to his teammates (second in the league, 9.9 assists per game) and he rebounds better than any other point guard in the league (7.3 per game). Kidd could even get some of my votes for league MVP.
Shooting Guard: Tracy McGrady – You might think that Iverson, or Kobe or even Paul Pierce would get the call, but I’m giving it to T-Mac. McGrady not only was fourth in the league in scoring at 25.6 points per game, but he led the league in rebounding for guards at 7.9 per game. T-Mac also ended the regular season averaging 5.3 dimes per contest. Everything a two-guard needs to do, McGrady did it.
Small Forward: Dirk Nowitski – Believe it or not, Dirk Diggler is a baller. Nowitski averaged numbers this year, making his first All-Star appearance and putting up the best point per game averages of his career. He averaged a solid double-double, with 23.4 points per game and an even ten boards per game.
Power Forward: Tim Duncan – Another no brainer really. Duncan plays the best power forward around, arguably. He is fifth in the league in scoring at 25.5 points per game and second in the league in rebounding at 12.7 per game. Those are numbers for a coach and team to count on every night. His free-throw percentage skyrocketed from below 60 percent last season to about 80 percent for most of this season. Now that’s phenomenal in itself, besides all the other things he can do.
Center: Shaquille O’Neal – Yes, Shaq is the best center in the NBA. He was second in the league in scoring at 27.2 points per game and seventh in the league in rebounds, with 10.7 per game. He is almost unstoppable in the low block area and causes all kinds of problems for offensive players. He’s simply too big to be as athletic and nimble as he is.
Point Guard: Gary Payton – “The Glove” may be an old veteran but he still gets the job done for his team. He’s crafty, finding ways to score, averaging 22.1 points per game and handing out nine assists to go along with them. He has once again led his team to the playoffs, doing whatever needs to be done to get there. And let’s not forget they don’t call him “the Glove” for nothing; GP can still put the clamps on any opposing guard around.
Shooting Guard: Paul Pierce – He took his game to another level this season. Pierce was able to put up sound numbers for his team at the two-guard position., averaging third best in the league for scoring at 26.1 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. Pierce made his first All-Star appearance and has helped his team get back to the playoffs in a very respectable number three seed.
Small Forward: Kevin Garnett – KG produces double-doubles like a machine. Arguably the most versatile player in the NBA, Garnett was averaging 21.2 points per game this season along with his 12.1 boards. He can match up against any premiere small or power forward in the league, also averaging almost 1.6 rejections per game. He remains one of the league’s best big men, just for being “da’ kid.”
Power Forward: Ben Wallace – I’m going out on a limb here. But it’s not just offense in this league any more. Ben Wallace has it all on the defensive end. He was named defensive player of the year, and the shortest player ever to lead the NBA in blocks and rebounds per game, standing only 6-foot-7. His numbers: 7.6 ppg, 13.0 rpg, and 3.0 blocks just go to show what some mad strength and hops can do.
Center: Jermaine O’Neal – If only he could have produced like this when he wore his Blazer uniform. Jermaine has turned into the real deal for a big man. He averaged 19 points, 10.5 boards and 2.5 blocks per game. That’s as good a stat line for any center in the NBA, and he’s only going to get better.