The selections for All-NBA forwards and centers present an interesting dilemma, as they strictly adhere to a two forward, one center format. In today’s position-less pace-and-space era of the NBA, it seems antiquated to require one center per All-NBA team. With the game speeding up and a premium being placed on spacing, there is a significant decrease in demand for traditional centers. Teams like the Houston Rockets don’t even believe in playing a center.
The NBA recognized this shift in basketball ideology by removing positions from the frontcourt of the All-Star ballot and allowing for three frontcourt players of any position to be named a starter. While this was a step in the right direction, no changes have been made to the format of the All-NBA teams, resulting in less deserving players on the All-NBA teams simply due to their position.
With that caveat in mind, here are my selections for the All-NBA forwards and centers. (You can see my 2020 All-NBA guards here)
The Denver Nuggets suffered a difficult season-ending defeat Sunday to the Portland Trail Blazers, and a few of their players didn’t perform when the team needed them most.
Center Nikola Jokic went 11-for-26 from the field, missing several key shots down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Coach Michael Malone admitted after the defeat that Jokic took responsibility for the 100-96 loss in the locker room, but Malone refused to assign the blame to him.
Michael Malone got emotional while saying Nikola Jokic took blame for the loss. Malone said it wasn’t his fault.
— Mike Singer (@msinger) May 12, 2019
In truth, Denver’s defeat was a team effort. Jokic did not have a great shooting night, but Jamal Murray went 4-of-18 and failed to knock down any of his four three point tries. Combine that with some huge moments from Portland’s star players and you have a recipe for defeat.
Jusuf Nurkic displayed a powerful message with the shirt he wore during Game 6 between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, and many believe the wardrobe selection was not a coincidence given the opponent.
Nurkic’s shirt listed 10 names, and all are people who died in The Bosnian War that was fought between 1992 and 1995.
Jusuf Nurkic wearing a shirt with the names of soldiers who died in the Bosnian War during this game against the most prominent Serbian player in the league is something pic.twitter.com/ZPUe1yalzh
— Joe Bush (@joebush_joebush) May 10, 2019
The 10 people died fighting for The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. On the other side were self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat forces, and they were supplied by Serbia and Croatia.
Nurkic, who used to play for the Nuggets, is a Bosnian Muslim. Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is Serbian. Nurkic was traded to Portland in 2017 after he lost his starting job to Jokic, and he criticized the team for the way they handled the situation.
For what it’s worth, Jokic went out of his way to say after the game that he is happy to see Nurkic up and walking around after the gruesome leg injury he suffered six weeks ago.
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) May 10, 2019
Again, there are people who believe Nurkic chose to wear that shirt intentionally because his team was going up against Jokic and the Nuggets. Only Nurkic knows if that is true or not.
Nikola Jokic briefly exited Game 4 of the Denver Nuggets’ Western Conference semifinals series against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday due to what appeared to be a foot or leg injury.
Jokic was seen limping after Gary Harris’ layup to put Denver up 109-104 with 1:03 left in the game. He went to the bench and was treated as Torrey Craig replaced him in the lineup.
No idea what happened to Jokic… But I'm just gonna blame it on all the minutes he's played. lol pic.twitter.com/SatpW4I4fr
— 69 (@ftbeard_17) May 6, 2019
Jokic went back into the game but was in and out over the final minute due to defensive substitutions.
His status will be something to watch for the rest of the series. Between playing 65 minutes in the four-overtime game on Friday and this, his endurance and strength is being tested.
Nikola Jokic was booed when he touched the ball early in Sunday’s Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals series between his Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers.
The boos began for Jokic on his first touch of the game and continued through the rest of the first quarter. Why did the fans feel the need to boo him? It has to do with an incident from Friday’s Game 3.
Jokic rammed into Enes Kanter on a free throw attempt during the game, nailing the Blazers big man in his injured left shoulder. Kanter couldn’t believe no foul was called and brought it to the attention of the refs. He then tweeted the video after the game and said the league should look at it.
Denver head coach Michael Malone defended Jokic over the play, saying the center meant nothing malicious. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts felt otherwise, saying he thought the move was “uncalled for.” It’s pretty clear where Portland’s fans stand on the incident.
Nikola Jokic’s physical contact with Enes Kanter on a box out during a free throw attempt in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday night has sparked plenty of discussion.
Jokic was seen ramming into Kanter on a free throw attempt during the second quarter. The play drew particular attention from us because Jokic nailed Kanter in his left shoulder, which was already injured.
presented without comment pic.twitter.com/Wdlm6qfOcq
— Adam Ward (@adamcward) May 4, 2019
Kanter said after the game he thought the league needed to review the play. He has the backing of Portland head coach Terry Stotts, who said the play was “uncalled for.”
Stotts on the shoulder Jokic gave Kanter on the foul line box out in Game 3: “I have seen it and I think it was uncalled for. I don’t know if the league will review it or not. I certainly didn’t approve of it.”
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) May 4, 2019
Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone disagreed, saying he did not find the play to be malicious.
Michael Malone on Stotts’ assessment of this play: “I think Terry’s off base there. I don’t think it was anything malicious. This is the playoffs. We’re all big boys.” Malone goes on to say that Nikola obviously isn’t that type of player. https://t.co/5GXTXfntku
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) May 4, 2019
The league has not addressed the play yet, but maybe they will. There are two questions at play: was his box out move legal, and was he targeting Kanter’s injured shoulder?
Enes Kanter was on the receiving end of a cheap shot from Nikola Jokic during Game 3 between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets on Friday night, and he wants the NBA to review the play.
The incident occurred when Jokic and Kanter were lined up next to each other on a Moe Harkless free throw attempt in the second quarter. Jokic, who was lined up close to the basket, blatantly rammed into Kanter. While no foul was called, Kanter tweeted after the game asking the NBA to “take a freaking look at this please.”
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 4, 2019
To make matters worse, Jokic caught Kanter directly in the left shoulder. The Blazers big man suffered a separated shoulder during Portland’s first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he is still playing through a great deal of pain. He’s unsure if he will be able to play in Game 4.
Enes Kanter said he re-separated his left shoulder in the first overtime and also injured his right bursa earlier in the game. Both were wrapped in ice afterward and he said he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play in Game 4.
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) May 4, 2019
Kanter’s shoulder has clearly bothered him at other times during the series, and you’d hate to hear that Jokic knew that and was trying to target that area. While a suspension seems highly unlikely, a fine would be reasonable.