The All-NBA teams consist of the top 15 players in the league for that year — the creme of the crop, creme de la creme, and some other creme-based reference establishing how damn good they are at basketball. These teams are voted on by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
BUT, have you ever just liked a particular player with no real reason? You know, when you comment to your friend, “man, I just like [insert player name].” And your friend replies, “who?” Maybe he’s already an NBA all-star playing for a small market team that you feel hasn’t gotten the national love he deserves. Or maybe he’s that 9th man buried in a team’s rotation and you latch on to his hustle, defense, hair, lopsided headband or low-rise socks, irrationally confident shooting, or emoji tats. There’s no justifiable reason for your fandom, you just feel it deep in your bones. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. THE BACKDOOR CUT CREW has those favorite players too. Here’s introducing the first annual BACKDOOR CUT CREW ALL-NBA TEAMS. But here’s the thing, we need to introduce a few parameters:
- The player must currently play in the NBA (includes two-way contracts)
- The player can already be recognized as an All-NBA or All-Star player.
All-Slim (@BarnBurnerSlim) Team:
Before we dive right in, let me provide you with a quick glimpse of the thinking process that led to the All-Slim Teams. First, no current Grizzlies will be on my list, no need to put players from my favorite team on here. My 1st team consists of legit stars while the others are based on entertainment value and players I enjoy watching when Memphis isn’t playing. Without further ado…
If I have a type of guy, Russell Westbrook is my type of guy. The man is about to average a triple-double for the third season in a row, will go out and score 45+ when facing elimination, and just does not give a fuck what people think. On top of that, he does great charitable work through his Why Not Foundation and seems to be a pretty stellar dude, thus landing him the captain spot on Slim’s 1st Team.
PG and LeBron make the team based on skill alone, with George probably being the best 2-way player in the league right now and LBJ holding the crown as my all-time favorite. Klay won me over when I saw this clip of him drinking a Coors Light postgame, and there is just something mystifying about watching someone play basketball that can catch fire quicker than the strike of a match. Rounding out the lineup with Embiid was an easy choice, the big fella has hella troll game on social media, but more importantly wants to dominate his opponent on the court. This is basically “1st Team IDGAF What You Think, I’m Gonna Let My Game Speak”.
Lou Will, or Louis as he was once known, has had a special place in the heart of Slim since his South Gwinnett team trounced my high school team in a summer league matchup at MTSU. Williams poured in 50 points from all over the court and looked to dunk on anyone willing to jump with him at the rim, it was insane. Nowadays, Lou Will is a cultural icon of swag.
While he has his fair share of boneheaded plays, Lance Stephenson is fun as shit to watch. He can really hoop when he gets it going to, I will forever be a fan of Born Ready and his on-court antics. Kemba, AKA the Human Uzi, has been a Certified Bucket Getter for several years now and CBG pulls a lot of weight in the voting for Team Slim.
Montrezl Harrell is simply relentless and one of the guys you never look forward to play against. I’ve found myself turning to Clippers games just to see who has to deal with Trez on a random Tuesday night and it is usually a quite enjoyable watch. The same can be said for Big Steve, and he seems to be a pretty decent guy. (However, we cannot forget Zbo getting to the point of face mushing the guy because he was so annoying and the NBA subsequently shafting the Grizzlies because of him.)
Will Barton is the headliner of the 3rd Team who is probably more deserving of a 2nd team spot. Barton is definitely a member of CBG and we’ve seen his swag increase infinitely since his days as a Tiger. He is as fun as anyone in the league when he gets it going and his craftiness plus general awkward movements make him silky smooth on the court.
Sabonis and Portis are two young bigs that have caught my eye due to being able to pound opposing 2nd units on the glass and showing the ability to continuously develop their skills on the offensive end. Tough, hard-nosed guys that you probably don’t want to fuck with. Fox needs no explanation, but his similarities to Mike Conley are probably what got him a spot on the squad. Beasley, much like Fox, has a smooth offensive game that has made the young players quickly climb the ranks of guys I like to watch.
Like Malcolm Gladwell, I am a fan of mastery. A true master perfects his craft, becoming as synonymous with his trade as the Kleenex is with tissue. As I reflected on my favorite NBA players, I noticed each of them mastered an element of the game — some obvious, others more amorphous — becoming greater totems to basketball at large than mere professional players in the Greatest League. Mastery and sometimes toughness. This is the All-Sam Team.
Steph changed the game, he hit a half-court shot in the 2015 Western Conference Semis that killed Grit ‘n Grind and screamed with primal fury, stunting on me and 17,000 Memphians in the peak Grindhouse. They should have called the series at that moment to spare me pain. The “Baby Faced Assassin” is such a dope nickname I have to legit wonder whether Steph has actually murdered a motherfucker. He has the ball on a string, is a threat from anywhere, and he comes from a mid-major, all criteria for an All-Sam team.
The Beard is the Hattori Hanzo of drawing contact and step-back travel 3s. One thing I love is how he’s on the borderline of being fat, but he’s really just thicc AF (and sneaky athletic). Sometimes he thunders down the lane and yams on whoever is standing in the paint — an unfortunate soul likely expecting Harden to lay it in. Never mind his strip club addiction (and perhaps the fact that he may not be a good person by many accounts), with his bag, Harden can get wherever he wants whenever he wants on the floor. Miss me with that “killing the game” shit, he’s an artist painting a masterpiece anytime he gets past his defender and causes the defense to scramble and collapse in the paint. And like the tourists viewing the Sistine Chapel daily, I’m absolutely here for it. Also, I use this daily:
I love CJ McCollum, king daddy of the mid-range. You thought these shots died with Morey’s Rockets and moneyball, but CJ ain’t about that life. A four-year guy from Lehigh, CJ is guaranteed to drop 30 anytime he plays the Grizzlies. He’s also responsible for one of my favorite #NBATwitter memes.
Holding down my paint is a Cameroonian tandem, though they play quite differently. Slithering down the lane and whipping his body after loose balls with ferocity is Pascal Siakam. I love late first-round picks that turn into borderline all-stars, and Siakam came all the way from SEMINARY SCHOOL in Cameroon to New Mexico State and straight into my heart.
Banging bodies (and causing basketball death with a bump-bump dunk) is none other than “The Process”: Joel Embiid. Embiid nicknaming himself and getting away with it is among the most OG-est of things in the League. Thank the Lord for Basketball Without Borders. We’ll start to see more overseas players emerge and make the league both more diverse and entertaining.
I heart D-Lo. I covet him and would be perfectly content with the Grizzlies throwing a max deal at him this summer as he’s a RFA. He’s 22 and is now playing like he did as a superstar frosh at Ohio State. Significantly less showy, my guy (and Josh Pastner Product!!!) Josh Okogie is satisfied with doing the dirty work — hustle and defense. Oh, and this:
For Zak’s reasons outlined above, while he looses a lot of games, Booker is fun and he’s already a villain. I love villains. I love Luka because he’s already as good as people said he would be despite the #HoopTwitter trolls saying he wasn’t going to be good because he didn’t play at a U.S. College for one year. Finally, Blake is nasty. He does everything for that shit-ass Pistons team.
- Guard: Zach LaVine
- Guard: Victor Oladipo
- Wing: Taureen Prince
- Wing: Josh Richardson
- Big: Clint Capela
All-Rich (@watchu__mead) Team:
The teams consist of some of my favorite NBA players currently balling out. Some of them are superstars that you’re surely familiar with, whereas others may have you doing some research. From Villanova to Belmont, here is surely a player that you’ll appreciate and hopefully learn
even more about their respective games!
Kyrie Irving. Enough said. I love Kyrie’s finishing abilities and the fact that he seemingly has the ball on a string. He can get anywhere that he wants to on the court, and gets hot in an instant. Troy Daniels is the definition of a knockdown shooter. Granted, he doesn’t do much else on the basketball court, which is why you may be surprised to see him here, but this guy has a flamethrower and he shoots the peel off of the ball! (P.S. I miss you in the Forum Troy ☹). At the 3 I’ve got Trevor Ariza who I’ve been a fan of since he was a part of the 09’ Lakers championship run. He was a 3&D wing before it was even cool to be a 3&D wing! At the 4 I’ve got to shoutout Kuz! A silky smooth, natural scorer, he has been a perfect fit for the Hollywood scene. I look forward to watching him continue to get buckets and hopefully develop even more so as a facilitator and defender. Lakers. Don’t trade this man. Rounding out my starting five is Mr. Bam Adebayo. An athletic and agile big man who impacts the game immensely without ever having a play called for him. I love watching his rim runs and vicious blocks. Miami, it’s time to move on Whiteside and let Bam be the man! (Did the rhyme y’all?)
Lonzo is my point guard here because he be dishing that hoe. Jordan Clarkson is the cockiest without having a reason to be cocky person that I’ve ever witnessed in my life. & I love it. He has unwavering confidence. Ian Clark has gotten forgotten down in NOLA but I’ve always loved his game and felt that it was so smooth. LeBron James is LeBron James. Rounding out this 5 is the big man, Steven Adams. He scares me. & I love him.
Derrick Rose will always be a legend to me. During his Simeon days he introduced the idea of uber-athletic point guards that would dunk on your head. He did the same at Memphis. I’m super happy that he’s having a bounce back year and I’m hopeful that it can sustain. At the 2 is my man Josh Hart. He’s just a really cool guy. He accepted my LinkedIn request too! He’s lighthearted, guards players bigger than him, rebounds like a big man, and loves The Office. What more could you want? At the 3 is Jaylen Brown. I appreciate his game and also his intellect. From playing chess, to always challenging the status quo for athletes, I appreciate that the world is bigger than basketball for him; you can’t put that man into a box. At the 4 is our newest Grizz signee Bruno Cabloco! I’m basing this pick strictly on potential, please prove me write Bruno! At the 5 is Jusuf Nurkic, a skilled enforcer whom I’m a big fan of. I love his paint presence.. and his beard.
The first team All-Zak is a team that consists of some outstanding defenders and tenacious guys who are fun to watch, no matter how their team is doing. If you are a fan of the finer details of the game of hoops, then you will appreciate these gentlemen.
Though not defined as a true point guard by most, I’ve slotted Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns in as the primary ball-handler on this roster. Booker is a guy who can run the show and get buckets. This is his fourth year in the league and in 252 games he has scored 30 or more points 55 times!! That is just a tick under 22%. To put that in perspective for Grizzlies fans, Mike Conley has only reached the 30 point mark 20 times in his NBA career that now exceeds a decade.
In the second guard slot resides Marcus Smart from the Celtics who can lock down any guard in the league when healthy. Ever since November of 2013 when he dropped 39 points on my beloved Memphis Tigers, I have been intrigued by him. His NBA scoring never reached the consistency that he achieved in his two years at Oklahoma State. However, this year we have witnessed him reach career highs in 3P% (35.9%) and EFG% (51.7%). On the defensive side of the ball, he is a bulldog that I would be glad to see in Beale Street Blue.
Out on the wing, I have Robert Covington earning some run. RoCo is a jack of all trades who finds ways to impact the game when on the court. He has a career 105 defensive rating and at 6’9” he is able to disrupt opponents on all levels of the floor. Similar to Smart, he is having the most efficient scoring season of his career.
In the paint I’m taking a throw back to the Mighty Ducks and going with two bruisers a la the bash brothers. The first frontcourt guy on my roster is my second former UK Wildcat in Julius Randle of the New Orleans Pelicans. Randle is In his 5th year in the league and is averaging almost 20 points per game on his new team in Nola (previously with the Lakers) – even through the Anthony Davis drama. Though he is undersized as a center (listed at 6’9”), he still pulls down nearly 10 boards per game.
Now for the finale. If you know me, then you know you can’t have an All-Zak team without a frontcourt defensive anchor. I’m going with Steven Adams with my last selection. Adams is a guy who can lock down any big man in the league and he does this while being nearly a 20-10 guy himself. He has shown consistent improvement every season in the league and many would say that he is the glue that holds the OKC Thunder together. Also, he is literally a walking example of the “You vs the guy she told you not to worry about” meme.
The second team All-Zak is run by a second year point guard out of NC State, who was traded a few weeks ago from the Mavs and sent to the New York Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis. DSJ is a hyper athletic guard who has plenty of room to grow, but that’s part of the excitement.
Buddy Hield is on this group as a straight up sniper. He was a four-year guy out of the University of Oklahoma who has improved every single year of his NBA tenure. He is a career 42.5% three point shooter, including hitting 44.9% of his shots from deep this year.
Until recently, Brad Beal was seen as the second fiddle of the Wizards behind John Wall, but I’m here to state that he is actually first chair on that team (even though he is 2nd team for mine.)
If you are a frequent listener to the Backdoor Cut Show, you will know that I have been a Rabb fan from day one – literally, I swear. I saw him play his first game in Southaven with the Memphis Hustle of the G-League and expressed out loud that he belonged in the Forum, and not the Landers Center. Though his per game numbers aren’t anything to write home about, his per 36 stats show the improvement he has made and looks to continue as he helps to fill the Gasol shaped hole that remains on the Grizzlies depth chart.
If you haven’t noticed, there is a specific trend here with the guys in the 5 spot. Jarrett Allen has reverse-postered nearly every big name in the league this year. As a sophomore, he is averaging 11.2/8.6r/1.6b per game in only 27 minutes for the rising Brooklyn Nets. Keep this guy on your radar.
Dragic has had a tough go of things. He finally made an All-Star game last season and has never played with a more than basic playoff team. He’s my veteran floor general for the third team and is going to help feed the younger big men.
I had to have at least one University of Memphis alumnus –probably should just say former Memphis Tiger — on the roster. D-Rose as a former ROY and MVP seemed like a solid selection with the way that he has fought back this season and played meaningful basketball.
Taurean Prince is a young guy who can help stretch the floor for this team to allow for driving lanes for the pair of aforementioned guards. Prince is shooting nearly 40% from three and affects the game in multiple ways when on the court.
You have to love guys who are double double machines who do their damage off the bench in less than 30 minutes per game. Since being traded to Indy from OKC with Victor Oladipo in the Paul George deal, Sabonis has carved out an importance spot for himself on the Pacers, and my roster.
Though he hasn’t gotten much run during his short time in the league, Maker is a guy that when he is on the court, I am excited about what I see. He is 7’1” and may not fill up the stat sheet yet, but he impacts the game while on the court. Hopefully now that he is in Detroit, we will get a chance to see him blossom with some playing time night in and night out.