For the second consecutive season, the Los Angeles Clippers placed two players on the All-NBA teams, with Chris Paul being named to the first team and Blake Griffin being named to the second team. The honors are well deserved and not in the least surprising. For Paul it is his sixth All-NBA selection and the fourth time he's been named to the first team, including three years in a row. For Griffin it is his second straight second team selection.
The Clippers were one of five teams to take up two of the fifteen All-NBA slots -- in fact, all five first team selections were joined by a teammate somewhere on the list.
LeBron James, the only unanimous selection was joined by his Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, who made the third team. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City made the first and second team respectively as did Tim Duncan and Tony Parker of the Spurs. The list of teams with multiple selections concludes with the Lakers, who placed Kobe Bryant on the first team and Dwight Howard on the third team.
Also chosen to All-NBA were Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies and Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks on the second team, and David Lee of the Warriors, Paul George of the Pacers and James Harden of the Thunder on the third team.
Paul was the leading vote-getter among guards, both in terms of first place votes and total points (five points are award for a first team vote, three for second and one for third, with the votes being cast by 119 sportswriters and broadcasters). Paul was third overall in voting, behind only James and Durant.
Griffin was the only second team selection not to receive a single first team vote, but that's hardly surprising. He happens to play the same position as James, Durant and Anthony, who finished one-two-three in MVP voting this season. There simply weren't any more first place votes available at the forward spot. (In fact, James received the maximum 119 first place votes, Durant got 102 and Anthony 24, which exceeds the number of available votes for forwards, meaning that 17 voters actually fudged their ballots enough to vote for one of those players at either guard or center.)
Griffin's point total suffered from the absence of first place votes, and in fact he had only the 12th highest point total among players, but made the second team at forward by being fourth among forwards. He was however the 'best' power forward in the NBA this season by this measure; James, Durant and Anthony all played plenty of four on the year, but they are all primarily perimeter players, making Griffin the highest vote getter among interior forwards.
It helped Griffin that Kevin Love was injured most of the season of course, and Love as well as players like Lee, LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph can all stake a claim as the game's best power forward. But the All-NBA voters this season bestowed the honor on Griffin. Still, Griffin will need to continue to develop if he wishes to truly establish himself in that spot.
Viewed in the context of the All-NBA voting, it's not difficult to see why the Clippers first round playoff exit was such a disappointment. Among the five teams featuring two All-NBA players, the Heat and the Spurs are currently competing in their respective Conference Finals and appear at this point to be headed towards a showdown in the NBA Finals. The Thunder and the Lakers had two All-NBA selections, but competed in the playoffs without one of them, as injuries sidelined Bryant and Westbrook. A sprained ankle for Griffin likewise played a role in the Clippers playoff exit, but it's nonetheless a let down for a team with such star power to fail to win a playoff series.
But the good news is that stars win in the NBA, and the Clippers will almost certainly enter next season with their stars aligned for five more seasons. Griffin's contract extension begins next season and although Paul is a free agent, he is widely expected to sign a new deal with the Clippers. Talent gives you a chance to win in the NBA -- the Clippers should have that chance for many years to come.