Giannis Antetokounmpo unanimously selected to all-NBA first team
NEW YORK (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden got the most votes, and Damian Lillard and Kemba Walker were also big winners when the All-NBA teams were announced.
Those guards can cash in with supermax contracts based on their selections to one of the three All-NBA teams that were announced Thursday.
LeBron James also was voted to the third team, tying the NBA record with his 15th All-NBA selection.
Rounding out the first team were Stephen Curry, Paul George and Nikola Jokic, who was Denver's first All-NBA selection since Carmelo Anthony in 2010.
Antetokounmpo and Harden were unanimous selections, receiving all 100 votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters who had to choose two guards, two forwards for each of the three teams.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the first Bucks player to earn First Team honors since Sidney Moncrief following the 1982-83 season. The Bucks forward is just the fourth player in franchise history to garner All-NBA First Team honors, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Marques Johnson and Moncrief.
In his sixth NBA season, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to the best record (60-22) in the NBA and the team’s most wins since the 1980-81 season, while setting new career highs in points (27.7, ranked 3rd in the NBA), rebounds (12.5, ranked 6th in the NBA) and assists (5.9) per game. He became just the ninth player in NBA history to average at least 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.
Antetokounmpo also averaged 1.5 blocks per game – the second-highest mark of his career – and was named to the 2018-19 NBA All-Defensive First Team, as the Bucks were the top-rated defense in the NBA this season and held opponents to a league-low 43.3 field goal percentage. On the season, Antetokounmpo shot a franchise-best 57.8 percent (ranked 11th in the NBA) from the field and earned Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors four times.
In February, Antetokounmpo made his third consecutive start in the All-Star Game as he captained Team Giannis in the 68th NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte. Antetokounmpo became a starter after receiving the most player votes (269), tied for the second most media votes (99) and the second-most fan votes (4,375,747).
Walker was the final selection but all that matters is that he made it. By doing so, he became eligible to receive a five-year contract extension worth about $221 million from the Hornets if he opts to stay in Charlotte, a reward the NBA put in recently as further incentive to keep players with their current teams.
The Hornets could have offered him about $30 million less if he wasn't selected and failed to earn the criteria for the largest possible contract.
Lillard, a second-team selection, can get more than $190 million over four years with a new contract in Portland.
Golden State's Klay Thompson, Washington's Bradley Beal and Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns were also in position to cash in with those lucrative extensions, but none was an All-NBA selection.
James has been a lock for most of his career, but was no sure thing after an injury-shortened first season in Los Angeles. His streak of 11 consecutive seasons as a first-team player, a record he shared with Karl Malone, came to an end. He did, however, make his 15th consecutive appearance on the All-NBA roster — joining Kobe Bryant as the only players to make that many teams in consecutive fashion. The 15th All-NBA nod also tied James with Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan for the most in league history.
The second-longest active streak now belongs to Curry, who's been on each of the past six All-NBA teams. That means he wouldn't be able to catch Bryant and James' longevity mark until 2028.
Philadelphia center Joel Embiid led the second team that along with Lillard included Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving.
James and Walker headlined a third team that featured Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Rudy Gobert.