By AP — LeBron James now stands alone in All-NBA recognition history, getting there unanimously, while Ben Simmons just earned his first nod in a historic moment for Australian basketball.
James was revealed Thursday (AEST) as an All-NBA player for a record 16th time, breaking the mark he shared with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. He was a first-team pick on all 100 ballots, joining Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only unanimous first-team selections this season.
Joining them on the first team: Houston guard James Harden, Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Dallas guard Luka Doncic, who got the nod in just his second season in the NBA — becoming the first player to do that since Duncan in 1998-99.
The 21-year-old Doncic is the sixth player to make All-NBA at that age or younger, joining Kevin Durant, James, Duncan, Rick Barry and Max Zaslofsky.
James is a first-team pick for the 13th time in his career, extending his record there. Bryant and Karl Malone were 11-time first-teamers. Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP and the frontrunner to win the award again this season, was picked unanimously for the second consecutive year.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Denver centre Nikola Jokic, Portland guard Damian Lillard, Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul and Toronto forward Pascal Siakam were on the second team.
The third-team picks were Boston forward Jayson Tatum, Miami forward Jimmy Butler, Utah centre Rudy Gobert, Philadelphia guard Simmons and Houston guard Russell Westbrook.
Paul and Westbrook are now -time All-NBA players, Harden a six-time choice, Lillard is a five-timer and Antetokounmpo, Leonard and Davis are four-time selections. Butler and Gobert are three-time selections, Jokic a two-time choice and Siakam, Tatum and Simmons all joined Doncic as being on the team for the first time.
Simmons became the first Australian to make an All-NBA team. He also this month became the first Australian to make the NBA All-Defensive first team and just the second Aussie to make an NBA All-Defensive team at all, following Andrew Bogut (second team, 2015).
Simmons was also the first Aussie to become an NBA All Star and earned his second selection this season. In his third NBA season, Simmons averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds in 57 games, before bowing out with a knee injury.
Harden and Doncic appeared on all 100 ballots — though only James and Antetokounmpo were unanimous as first-team choices on every ballot. Davis and Jokic were on 99 ballots, and Leonard appeared on 98.
The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11, and voters had to choose two guards, two forwards and one centre for each team.
Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton did not make All-NBA even though he appeared on more ballots (60) than Simmons (43) and Westbrook (38); they made the team as guards. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid got 39 votes and did not make the team either, after finishing fourth among centres.
Middleton led forwards who didn’t make the team in votes, Embiid did the same for centres and Washington’s Bradley Beal (26 votes) did the same for guards.