Warriors appearing in All-Star games is a rarity. They’ve had some players worthy of the coveted nomination, such as ex-Warrior Monta Ellis. In all reality, though, Latrell Sprewell was their last All-Star, making the team in 1997. For a lack of a better description, it’s been a long, long time.
Could David Lee finally right the ship?
Well, it’s very early to be making any predictions. Remember, we are just a tick more than a quarter though the season. Players who are off to hot starts now still have time to cool down, and vice versa for the usual cast of characters that always get their numbers. It’s really a balancing game.
As everything currently stands, however, Lee can make a pretty good case for himself.
And his team’s success has a lot to do with this.
As noted, the Warriors are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Meaning, the coaches can no longer use the excuse “(insert Warrior here) is not on a winning team” as a justification for leaving said player off the roster.
Warriors’ fans are very familiar with this excuse too.
They saw the same pattern take place with Ellis for years. He was averaging 20-plus points per game for three straight seasons, but wasn’t honored simply because his team wasn’t a contender.
At this pace, though, Lee shouldn’t have to worry about that facet of his All-Star portfolio. Of course, the Warriors’ winning ways could rapidly go south, erasing any of his hopes. But that forecast doesn’t seem in the cards for a deep Warriors team that currently has a strong gripping on the fifth seed in the West.
Golden State’s success aside, Lee has to do his part as well because the Warriors’ newfound success obviously isn’t automatically going to earn him on a spot on the All-Star team. This shouldn’t be a problem, though.
For starters, Lee has undertaken a massive role this season with Andrew Bogut on the shelf. Originally, he was expected to play his more natural position (power forward), especially after spending a good deal of time last season at center. This would allow him to find more favorable match-ups and work off Bogut’s presence in the paint.
That plan sounds great and all, but there hasn’t been much of a sample size, as Bogut’s been on the sidelines more than not. In result, Lee will continue to hold down two positions. And he isn’t getting much help either, as Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins can only last so long before mustering themselves into serious foul trouble. Just think of it likes this: Biedrins has more fouls (29), than points (11). I think you can fill in the rest.
Due to this, Lee is playing a boatload of minutes; 37.7 per game to be exact. In fact , only LaMarcus Aldridge averages more minutes.
Statistically, Lee ranks even better. He is second amongst power forwards in points per game (19.8), second in assists (3.5), third in rebounds (11.2), and first in efficiency rating (25.2). You’d be hard pressed to find a power forward as dynamic as Lee.
Then, we have the intangibles, which is an interesting topic, to be sure.
Earlier in the year, rumors were floated that Lee was not a “team player.” Rather, a strictly stats guy. Not only were those reports probably false at the time, but now they look even more foolish, as Lee has flourished in a leadership role with the Dubs. Plus, players who solely play for the stats rarely play on winning teams. It just doesn’t matchup quite right.
So, with all factors considered, Lee should be an All-Star, right?
As it stands now, correct. Lee, however, isn’t a widely know name on the national spectrum. Meaning, he’s not a Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, or Kevin Love.
Nowitzki, for example, has yet to suit up this year, but could still be voted to start the All-Star game in Houston anyway. That attests to his reputation as a star, not necessarily what he’s done lately. Duncan also has the same respect amongst the basketball world.
Anyone in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Texas, garner the most national exposure. Lee should be familiar with this, as his first All-Star appearance came in 2010 with the Knicks in New York, of course; the biggest stage in sports.
Perhaps this past experience will boost his chances on the West coast. Realistically, though, Lee’s best chance at being nominated is to be picked by the coaches, who are pick their players based on their performance more than not.
While Lee is certainly worthy of an All-Star nomination, the voting process is often skewed by the reputations of players rather than the actual top performers. Only time will tell if Lee will fall victim to his unfortunate trend.
*All Stats Through December 20th*