The 2020-21 NBA season has been nothing short of entertaining.
While it appears that a centre will win MVP for the first time in over 20 years, there are several guards that are playing at an elite level, a fact that shouldn't be overlooked. So much so that voters are going to have a difficult time selecting just two to represent as First Team All-NBA.
Ahead of a meeting between two All-NBA candidates in Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic, our NBA.com Staff tries its hand at selecting two First Teamers.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): This might come off as unconventional, but I'm going to go with Stephen Curry and Chris Paul.
With so many worthy candidates, there isn't really a wrong answer, but when I was thinking about it, it's hard for me to not choose the two guards that should finish the highest in MVP voting as my All-NBA backcourt.
Curry, who has tapped into 2015-16 mode, is a mere tenth of a point away from the second scoring title of his career and, with his play as of late, continues to rewrite the NBA's record books. Golden State is scraping by and should sneak its way into a Play-In spot, but without Curry, there's no telling where this team would be, or how it would even score.
I don't think there's a guard having a better season than Steph.
After saying Paul is making his best MVP case since the 2007-08 season - his first as an All-NBA First Teamer - I can't act like that doesn't make him worthy of a First Team selection this year, too. Thanks to Paul's leadership, playmaking and late-game heroics, the Suns are not only ending their 11-year postseason drought but could also finish with the league's best record.
Phoenix has improved across the board this season but a lot of the credit goes to CP, who continues to impress despite being 16 years in. For what it's worth, the team with the league's best record has had at least one All-NBA First Teamer in eight of the last 10 seasons.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Goodness, this is tough.
It's hard to argue with Stephen Curry getting one of the two spots up for grabs. I'm not sure there's much more I add to what Gil said. Curry's been absurd.
As for who is most deserving for the other spot, there are four players who immediately come to mind: James Harden, Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic and Chris Paul.
Each one of them has a strong case, but I'm leaning towards Doncic for the other spot right now. The Mavericks have been a bit of a disappointment this season, but Doncic has been incredible yet again, posting almost identical numbers as last season, only doing it more efficiently.
As for the other candidates, the amount of games Harden has missed with injury works against him and Lillard has been in a bit of a slump lately. Paul deserves mention because of how he has helped turn the Suns into a legitimate force, but I have a hard time putting him over Doncic when it comes to All-NBA.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): This decision ended up being easier than I thought.
I'm going with Chris Paul and Stephen Curry. Both these guards have been tremendous this season.
In CP3's case, he's a legit MVP candidate who has the Suns with a chance of claiming the No. 1 in the West. Phoenix is outscoring opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor versus 3.7 points per 100 when he sits.
The clincher for me is what he's done in the clutch again this season. The Suns are 20-11 in clutch games this season. A year ago, they were 16-21. The addition of CP3 has made them a more cerebral team when the game is on the line. Paul leads the team in total clutch points at 109 as of this writing, which is good for sixth in the league.
After scoring the final 7 points in the win at MSG... look back at the best of @CP3 in the clutch for the @Suns! pic.twitter.com/MKgNhb732r- NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2021
He's missed just one game this season. At age 35, it would've been easy for him to take a couple of games off this season, but he hasn't. He deserves credit for showing up every day in a condensed season.
All due respect to Harden, Luka, Dame and Kyrie Irving, but this choice was rather easy for me - it's Curry and CP3.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm riding with Carlan and Gil on this one, giving the nod to Stephen Curry and Chris Paul.
They already painted the picture as to exactly why those two players are most-worthy out of a pack of talented guards this season, so instead, I want to highlight a two others that should receive consideration but haven't been mentioned yet.
Both Donovan Mitchell and Kyrie Irving should also be in the mix for First Team All-NBA honours.
Starting with Mitchell, it might even be disrespectful that he hasn't had his name mentioned yet. He's averaging career-highs in points (26.4), assists (5.2), rebounds (4.4) and 3-point percentage (38.6) while leading the Utah Jazz to the best record in the league all season long. Yes, they're an extremely talented and balanced team, but that doesn't mean Mitchell shouldn't be at least considered for a First Team spot. His recent absence due to an ankle injury will dampen his case, but he had only missed three games all season prior to that injury.
As for Irving, this argument is a bit more difficult because his own teammate Harden would probably get the nod over him, but are we sure that should be the case? Irving has played in more games than Harden and has been playing some of the best basketball of his career in his absence, helping the Nets overtake the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
I don't believe either of these players are more deserving for First Team honours than Curry or Paul, but they should be mentioned in the same light as Doncic, Lillard and Harden.
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