LEXINGTON, Ky. – With all of Kentucky men’s basketball’s success at the professional level, no player has ever earned All-NBA distinction three or more times in his career. Until now.
Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans became the first player in school history to make one of the All-NBA teams at least three times with his inclusion on the All-NBA First Team on Thursday. May 24. It’s the third time in his career he’s made the All-NBA First Team, having previously done so in 2017 and 2015.
The MVP candidate joined LeBron James, James Harden, Damion Lillard and Kevin Durant on the All-NBA First Team. He was the third-leading vote-getter.
Davis was also named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team on Wednesday. It’s the third time in his career he’s picked up NBA All-Defensive honors but the first time he’s earned first-team distinction.
Additionally, Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves made the All-NBA Third Team for his first career All-NBA honors along with Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Jimmy Butler and Paul George.
The All-NBA Teams were chosen by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. The media voted for All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams by position with points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis. Voters were asked to select two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, picking players at the position they play regularly. Players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position where they received the most votes.
UK was one of two colleges with two players on the All-NBA Teams.
Davis is one of five players in UK’s history to earn multiple All-NBA honors in a career. Cousins, Ralph Beard, Alex Groza and Cliff Hagan are all two-time honorees. Only Davis and Groza have earned multiple first-team honors.
Of course, Davis and Towns were both stars at Kentucky. Davis led UK to the 2012 national championship while winning just about every major national player of the year award, earning All-America honors and setting the single-season school record for blocks. Towns was one of the centerpieces of the 2014-15 team that went 38-1 and advanced to the Final Four. Davis and Towns make up two of Kentucky’s three No. 1 NBA Draft picks, all having come during the John Calipari era.
Davis was playing at an All-NBA level before DeMarcus Cousins, who made the All-Star Game, went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. With talk that the Pelicans would fall out of the playoff race with Cousins gone, Davis put the team on his back and put together one of the most dominant months in recent memory in February. The 2012 Final Four Most Outstanding Player averaged an NBA-best 35.0 points per game, 13.0 rebounds (ranked third in the NBA), 2.5 steals (first in the NBA) and 2.2 blocks (second in the NBA) to win NBA Western Conference Player of the Month honors.
The Pelicans not only made the playoffs behind Davis’ play, they advanced to the Western Conference semifinals. The franchise leader in scoring and rebounding ranked among the statistical leaders in virtually every major category, including second in scoring (28.1), fifth in rebounding (11.), first in blocks (2.57), 15th in steals (1.53), 16th in field-goal percentage (.534) and sixth in double-doubles (50). He logged nine games with at least 40 points and at least 10 rebounds.
It was a season of firsts for Towns, who made his first career playoff appearance, his first NBA All-Star Game and now his first All-NBA selection. Another first? He led the NBA in double-doubles with 68 of them.
Towns averaged 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in 2017-18. Not only was the 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year among the league leaders in scoring (20th), rebounding (fourth), field-goal percentage (12th), 3-point percentage (14th) and blocks (13th), he was 10th in the NBA’s player efficiency rating. He scored 30 or more points in 11 games, including a career-best 56 vs. Atlanta.
The NBA also announced its All-Rookie Teams on Tuesday. Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat) and De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings) led all players in the receiving votes category. Malik Monk (Charlotte Hornets) also earned votes.
Adebayo averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds with seven double-doubles while helping the Heat make the playoffs. Fox tallied 11.6 points and 4.4 assists per game and scored in double figures in his final six games of the season. Monk averaged 6.7 points and came on really strong late in the year, averaging 20.4 points over the last five games.
The trio of Adebeyo, Fox and Monk led Kentucky to Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament championships in 2017 and a berth in the Elite Eight.
The NBA’s remaining 2017-18 award winners will be revealed June 25 at 9 p.m. during the NBA Awards Show on TNT June 26 at 9 p.m. ET at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. Finalists for the awards include several former UK men’s basketball players. Davis is going against James and Harden for the league’s MVP and he’s nominated for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, while Dwane Casey (Toronto Raptors) is up for NBA Coach of the Year.
Devin Booker is nominated for Clutch Shot of the Year and Davis is one of five finalists for the Block of the Year. Fans can vote on the latter two awards at nba.com/NBAawards.
Booker, who won the NBA’s Three-Point Contest this season and averaged 24.9 points, was a member of UK’s 2015 Final Four team. Casey, who lettered at UK from 1976-79, was a member of the 1978 national title team and served as an assistant coach in the late 1980s, guided the Raptors to a 59-23 record and the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Kentucky All-NBA Team Honors
Ralph Beard (2nd – 1950, 1st – 1951)
DeMarcus Cousins (2nd – 2015, 2nd – 2016)
Anthony Davis (1st – 2015, 1st – 2017, 1st – 2018)
Alex Groza (1st – 1950, 1st- 1951)
Cliff Hagan (2nd – 1958, 2nd – 1959)
Jamal Mashburn (3rd – 2003)
Rajon Rondo (3rd – 2012)
Karl-Anthony Towns (3rd – 2018)
John Wall (3rd – 2017)