The final spot on the 2021-22 All-NBA First Team came down to Boston Celtics wing Jayson Tatum and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, both of whom were eligible at forward. Although Embiid received more overall votes, Tatum received more as a forward, so he secured that last spot.
“I’m just thankful,” he told reporters Wednesday. “First Team All-NBA, that’s a big deal, so I am grateful for that.”
While Tatum expressed gratitude for the selection, he also pointed out the confounding nature of Embiid finishing second in MVP voting, yet being left off the All-NBA First Team.
“I do think it should be positionless,” he said. “Joel Embiid was second in MVP voting and he made second team? It doesn’t really make too much sense. I think it should just be like the 15 best players.”
"Joel Embiid was second in MVP voting and made second team. Doesn't really make too much sense."— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 25, 2022
Jayson Tatum speaks out on the voting criteria for the All-NBA team pic.twitter.com/F0StOVEbfM
Common sense prevails, finally! Embiid being the MVP runner-up in consecutive seasons without at least one All-NBA First Team nod to show for it is odd. As Tatum said, these teams should be about compiling the 15 best players in a given regular season, especially since they’re never actually playing games together. There is no need to construct ideal rosters.
Perhaps, a superstar speaking up about this, in conjunction with Embiid’s last two years, proves to be a watershed moment. Both voters and the league should be better about this. When granted to them, voters should take advantage of positional flexibility to select the 15 best players. Meanwhile, the league should eradicate positional requirements completely.
Hearing Tatum vocalize the issues with this topic is welcomed and refreshing. He’s spot-on.