Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard has been named to the all-NBA second team.
It marks Leonard’s third selection to an all-NBA team after earning first-team honours with the San Antonio Spurs in 2016 and 2017.
Leonard joins Vince Carter (twice), Chris Bosh, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (twice) as the only players in Raptors franchise history to be selected to an all-NBA team.
Leonard averaged career highs of 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 60 games this season, his first with the Raptors.
“Well, he’s awfully good,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said ahead of Thursday’s Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. “He seemed to cruise to 30 points a lot of nights — 30 is a lot in this league. And that’s why I kept saying, geez, it just feels like there’s another gear here with this guy that we’re going to see. . . Now we’re talking.
“He’s playing great. He’s right up there with the guys that are playing the best in the playoffs.”
He has guided to the team to the Eastern Conference final against the Milwaukee Bucks. The best-of-seven series was tied at 2-2 heading into Thursday’s game in Milwaukee.
Joining Leonard on the all-NBA second team are Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics).
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) are on the first team.
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City), Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets) are on the third team.
Antetokounmpo and Harden got the most votes, and Lillard and Walker were also big winners.
Those guards can cash in with supermax contracts based on their selections to one of the three all-NBA teams.
James the NBA record with his 15th all-NBA selection.
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.
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.
Canadian women’s basketball team loses three long-time players to retirement
Three longtime members of the Canadian women’s basketball team are retiring from international competition.
Guard Nirra Fields of Lachine, Que., and Edmonton twin sisters Katherine and Michelle Plouffe announced their decisions on Thursday.
Fields made her Canada debut for the under-16 team in 2009 and has played in 102 international games, while the Plouffe sisters have combined for 195 games for national teams.
“Ever since Nirra burst on the international scene with our U16 team, we knew that she was going to be something special,” said Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis.
“On the court, her talent is undeniable, but what I’m most proud of Nirra for is her work ethic, the time and effort she put into her game, as well as into her personal growth.”
The Plouffe sisters were thrilled to be able to play together for their country.
“It’s been so special to share my experiences with Michelle,” Katherine said. “She’s been a role model for me in her work ethic and her toughness and I am just her biggest fan. Playing together and travelling the world with Team Canada have been some great, great memories for me.”
The twins say they are turning their attention to three-on-three basketball, which makes its Olympic debut next year in Tokyo.