As David Lee's stats continue to hold stead and the Golden State Warriors hold steady as a viable playoff contender in the Western Conference, the case for Lee to be an All-Star is starting to pick up quite a bit of steam.
There are a lot of positives surrounding Lee's nice start, but has his offense been good enough to outweigh the negative that his defense brings?
It's an interesting conversation to have, and it really puts a spotlight on exactly what is viewed as more important by the fans, offense or defense.
Obviously, offense is an easier skill to measure. There are a ton of categories that give insight into how good a player a person is on offense. Between points, shooting percentages, assists, offensive rebounds, turnovers and even into the advanced metrics like effective and true shooting percentages.
We can't statistically see how good a player is at setting screens, tipping out rebounds, generating "hockey assists," or simply moving without the ball.
Defensively, we can really only get specific instances in which a player was effective on defense. Steals, blocks and defensive rebounds are the only things that we can take away from a box score. At most we can get an idea of what happened on 15 to 20 possessions.
We can't learn how often a player alters a shot, forces a bad pass, traps a ball-handler on the baseline, keeps a handler out of the lane, forces a bad shot or a shot from farther away, taps a rebound to a teammate or just plain intimidates an offensive player.
Lee is averaging 20 points per game and 11.3 rebounds, terrific basic numbers from which to build an All-Star argument. Surely a double-double average is enough to garner an All-Star appearance.
Well, that's not always the case.
In fact, David Lee had that happen to him in 2010 in what was arguably a better season for him. Lee averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds on 54.5 percent shooting (he's shooting 53.9 percent this season).
The reason Lee was passed over in 2010 was the fact that the Knicks were a bad team. Lee was just as good in that season, but there's a perception that a guy on a winning team has a better argument to be an All-Star than one on a terrible team.
One of the most interesting cases to take a look at, however, is Al Jefferson.
Jefferson averaged 19.8 points and 11 rebounds over the course of three seasons, from 2007 to 2009. He was in the same situation as 2010 David Lee, playing on a bad team, but putting up good numbers.
What's strange, however, is the fact that he proved that he was capable of averaging a double-double three seasons in a row, on two separate teams, but people were still skeptical.
Lee's Equal Opposite
A player that always comes to mind when we talk about David Lee is Tyson Chandler. It doesn't make much sense initially.
Basically they're opposite players.
Chandler is great at a lot of things on defense, but offensively he has a limited skill set. He can score efficiently right at the rim, set devastating screens, bag offensive rebounds and tap out rebounds to his teammates.
Actually, calling him Lee's opposite might be selling Chandler short. He can do more for his team offensively than Lee has shown us he can do defensively.
Anyway, Chandler was last year's Defensive Player of the Year, and the anchor of the Dallas Mavericks' championship defense prior to that. Chandler was not an All-Star in either season.
It seems to me that if Chandler isn't an All-Star, there's no way Lee can be one.
Deserving or not, the top three vote-getting frontcourt players will be Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard. They were leading in the first look at the voting, of which Lee didn't crack the top 15 in frontcourt players.
That's the three starters' spots gone, leaving six(ish) bench spots for frontcourt guys.
Lee has to overcome Tim Duncan, Kevin Love, Rudy Gay, Serge Ibaka, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, and (as crazy as it may seem) Pau Gasol.
Of those eight players, Duncan, Love, Randolph, Aldridge and Marc Gasol seem to be borderline guarantees.
It just seems like a stretch that Lee's reputation with coaches will put him above the rest of the guys left on the list.
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