All-NBA: Cali rules, but where’s Klay?

This year’s All-NBA teams were announced earlier this week and it’s just another example of the great players from California high schools who are making this such a golden era for the Golden State (pun intended).

NBA superstar Klay Thompson speaks at ceremony held at Santa Margarita when the school retired his No. 1 jersey. Photo: @SMCHSAthletics/

The first team, second team and third team of five players each is based on voting by media members (broadcast & print) who regularly cover the NBA. The first five highest point totals are first team, the next five highest vote totals are second team and next five highest are third team. There’s no indication in the point totals who ranked 16th and may have just missed. It also doesn’t list positions for each player, meaning that there didn’t have to be a required number of centers, forwards or guards on any team.

James Harden (Artesia, Lakewood) was one of two players who received 100 first-place votes, which means all 100 voters named him on the first team. Harden, who led Artesia to the CIF Division III state title in 2007 and who was the MVP of the NBA for last season, was joined with 100 first-place votes by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

But Harden wasn’t the only Californian on first team. Paul George (Knight, Lancaster) was named first team by 71 voters after the sensational season he had for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There also were two Californians on second team — Kawhi Leonard (M.L. King, Riverside) of the Toronto Raptors and Damian Lillard (Oakland) of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Making it five out of 15 on the third team was triple-double machine Russell Westbrook (Leuzinger, Lawndale) of the Thunder.

Much of the conversation after the teams were announced, however, was about another California player who wasn’t in the first 15. That would be Klay Thompson (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM) of the Golden State Warriors. Thompson maybe didn’t score as much or rebound as much as some others on third team — such as Blake Griffin, Rudy Gobert and Kemba Walker — but he’s a huge reason that the Warriors have advanced to their fifth straight NBA Finals and could win their third straight world championship. The exclusion of Thompson also is much more significant than just talking points because being on one of the top three teams is part of the criteria for a player to get a so-called super max contract. That doesn’t seem fair or make sense, but the players themselves did vote in favor of the bargaining methods that the league and teams will use to determine super max players.

In thinking about Thompson some more, you’d already have to say that he’s firmly on track to eventually be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and that he’s the best player ever from an Orange County high school. George Yardley (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) is the county’s only Hall of Famer as of now, but Thompson has had an even better career so far and there’s more still to come. There’s not a Mater Dei player for sure who can match him.

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