Every year in the NBA, the All-Star debate rages. Some deserving players are left out while other players appear in the annual showcase despite having suspect credentials. With the All-Star starters announced last week, we now wait for the reserves to be announced this Thursday (4 p.m. PST) on TNT.
Whereas fan balloting determines the starters, the reserves are voted upon by the 30 NBA head coaches. Each coach must vote for two guards, three frontcourt players (forwards and centers), and they cannot pick a player on their own team.
This year’s voting figures to be particularly close, and David Lee is among those players certainly deserving of that All-Star consideration. After a slow start to the season, by his standards, Lee has been a model of consistent productivity over the last two months, averaging 20.8 points and 10.5 rebounds over the last 26 games.
After being held to 11 points and a season-low three rebounds in a blowout loss in Houston on December 6, Lee responded the next night in Memphis with 23 points and 11 rebounds. That game marked the turning point in his season, as re rattled off 10-straight double-doubles. That streak of double-doubles led directly into the Warriors’ 10-game winning streak, during which Lee took home Western Conference Player of the Week honors.
A 2013 NBA All-Star, Lee is on pace to become the sixth player in franchise history to average at least 19 points and nine rebounds. Considering the other five players on that list are Hall of Famers (Nate Thurmond, Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain, Neil Johnston and Paul Arizin), that’s a pretty select group to be a part of.
What makes Lee particularly effective is his craftiness in the lane. Instead of overpowering opponents or jumping over them to finish an alley-oop dunk, Lee uses his lateral quickness to finish around the basket. He is adept at finishing with both the right and left hand, and his spinning jump hooks off the glass have become a staple much like the set-foot bank shot from Tim Duncan. Lee leads the NBA in points in the paint, and more than 70 percent of his scoring comes inside the key. His streak of 122-straight games with at least 10 points (entering Tuesday) is the longest in the NBA for anybody not named LeBron or Durant.
There’s no question that Lee is a worthy All-Star candidate, but he does have competition. Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, who was limited to 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting on Sunday thanks in large part to Lee, is as close as you can be as you can be as a lock to make the team, and Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis also have strong All-Star cases. Also in the running among frontcourt players are Dirk Novitzki, Zach Randolph, DeMarcus Cousins and Tim Duncan, and who makes it and who doesn’t out of that group is quite difficult to predict.
The votes are in, now we’ll just have to wait until Thursday to find out who the coaches selected to play in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game on February 16 in New Orleans.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Golden State Warriors.