Picking All-NBA teams for the first quarter of the 2023-24 season

The 2023-24 NBA season is a quarter of the way through. These are our picks for the quarter-season All-NBA teams using the new voting rules. 

Denver Nuggets v Philadelphia 76ers
Denver Nuggets v Philadelphia 76ers / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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First Team All-NBA

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic is continuing his ascent up NBA Mount Olympus. He leads the NBA in Box Plus-Minus at 14.1, which would be a full-season NBA record, breaking his own record of 13.7 from 2021-22. The four-season run he is on has a case to be the greatest consecutive stretch in NBA history. 

If advanced metrics aren’t your thing, he’s averaging 27.2 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game and is third in total points, second in total assists, and first in total rebounds. The Nuggets are 16-9, and with Jokic on the court, they have a plus-9.9 net rating, and when he sits, it drops to negative-10.4.

There’s not much more to say about Jokic. He’s firmly established himself as the best player in the world and continues to produce at a historic level. He’s reached the point where the regular season is a rehearsal for the playoffs, but it’s great to see an all-timer take rehearsals this seriously. 

Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid continues to improve and has quietly had the best season of his career. His scoring is right in line with last season, although, with a tad lower efficiency, but his growth as a passer has more than made up for it. He’s averaging a career-best 6.4 assists per game, which has made him a complete offensive force. 

This version of Emiid is the best we’ve ever seen. He’s scoring at will, racking up free throws, and he’s now setting teammates up at an outstanding clip. Tyrese Maxey’s emergence has helped, but in many ways, Maxey’s emergence is a product of Embiid’s excellence.

Defensively, Embiid has been engaged and excellent. There’s really nothing he hasn’t done well, and it’s why the Sixers have quietly posted the best net rating in the league at plus-8.8. He should garner serious support for MVP and will once again give Jokic a run for his money. The Sixers are title contenders, and Embiid is the reason why. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the best two-way guard in the league. He’s averaging 30.4 points per game on 57.7 percent effective field goal percentage and leads the league in steals per game. He’s doing prime Michael Jordan things and carrying an incredibly young Oklahoma City Thunder team to a 15-7 record. 

There’s really nothing negative you can say about Gilgeous-Alexander outside of that he could maybe stand to improve a bit as a 3-point shooter. However, this is a player who scores at incredible efficiency while creating almost all of their offense, sets up teammates without turning it over, and is an outstanding defensive player. 

The Thunder have a plus-13.4 net rating with Gilgeous-Alexander on the court, and his on-off net rating of plus-18.0 is Jokic-level absurd. The Thunder are real contenders, and Gilgeous-Alexander is the only reason why. If ever improves as a passer or 3-point shooter, he’d have a real claim as the best player in the world. Instead, he’ll have to settle for first-team All-NBA. 

Tyrese Haliburton

The first quarter of the 2023-24 NBA season will be remembered as the moment Tyrese Haliburton came to national prominence. He was always exceptional, but this season, he has gone to a whole new level. There’s a real case he has been the best offensive player in the league, and he’s leading the Pacers to the single-greatest offensive rating in NBA history at 123.4. 

Haliburton’s stats are hilarious. He’s averaging 26.3 points, 12.3 assists, and only 2.5 turnovers per game on a 63.2 percent effective field goal percentage. If he goes on a free throw heater (he’s at 88.5 percent) he could make a run at a 50/40/90 season. Haliburton has a 139 individual offensive rating, and with him on the court, the Pacers have a 127.8 offensive rating. 

While his defense leaves something to be desired, the sheer impact of his offense makes it a moot point. This is the best pick-and-roll orchestrator in the world and an elite high-volume 3-point shooter wrapped into one player. He won’t physically dominate a game or sky for dunks, but throughout a game, he’ll murder a defense through wit. 

The Pacers haven’t surrounded Haliburton with a competitive enough roster to compete for a title, but they’re well on their way. They’ll be a playoff team this season, and with a few shrewd moves, could move into contender status soon. 

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic continues Luka Doncic. He’s averaging 32.0 points, 8.9 assists, and 8.2 rebounds on a 56.8 percent effective field goal percentage, and he’s hitting the highest percent of threes of his career on his most attempts per game. He’s a high-volume efficiency machine that churns out points. 

The Mavericks are 15-8, but Doncic’s on-off splits aren’t fantastic. In fact, the Mavericks produce a nearly identical offensive and defensive rating with him on and off the court. While this is likely a blip, it’s worth monitoring as the season goes on. Only a great player can produce at this level, but if it isn’t clear it’s leading to winning, he could face some punishment from voters. 

For as great a player as Doncic is, his defense, like many of these players, is lackluster. Unfortunately, the human body is capable of only so much. To be a high-usage offensive hub, you cannot waste energy fighting through screens. However, Doncic could stand to be a bit better defensively. 

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