After finishing last season with a record of 23-43, there were questions about how the Golden State Warriors were going to improve. Trading Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut was their first step, but they've played exceptionally well despite their new acquisition playing in just four games so far this season.
The Warriors have already passed their total wins from the 2011-12 season, and are on track to make the playoffs. While it's unfair to attribute team success to individuals, Stephen Curry and David Lee have stepped up their games.
With the All-Star Weekend in Houston less than a month away, coaches around the league must seriously consider selecting the duo as reserves for the Western Conference. Lee is no stranger to these accolades, having previously been selected in 2010. However this is a legitimate chance for Curry to appear in the prime event, rather than the Skills Challenge or the Three-Point Shootout.
On the season, the fourth-year guard is posting 20.7 points and 6.6 assists, which are both career highs. Curry also ranks second in three-point field goals made and three-point field-goal percentage, trailing just New Orleans forward Ryan Andersen in both categories.
Curry is eighth in the league in scoring, and fourth amongst West guards. His assists-per-game average also holds a tie with Portland rookie Damian Lillard for sixth in the conference.
Despite the coagulation of West frontcourt players in consideration for the All-Star Game, Lee is playing very well. He is averaging a double-double of 19.6 points and 10.8 rebounds, making him one of just 10 players to do so. He is preceded by only LaMarcus Aldridge in Western Conference power forward scoring, and is fifth in field-goal percentage with 52.2 percent.
Which Western Conference duo should be voted as reserves?
It is a treat to see two teammates working together so efficiently, as both Curry and Lee rank as two of the top 12 scorers in the NBA thus far. With the latter grazing a 20 and 10 average, there should be no argument he is selected as a reserve.
Golden State's hold on the fifth seed in the West serves as evidence of the Warriors' play, and convincingly denies the ideal surrounding the induction of players from poor teams.
When one considers the potential players to be voted as reserves, Curry and Lee are right there. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are the front-runners to prevent Curry's first selection, with Tony Parker being his realistic competition.
For Lee, the obvious selections are LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph. There are a plethora of other names to consider, but the aforementioned are the unanimous favorites.
The central reason for Curry and Lee to merit consideration not only comes from their individual play, but their team's surprising success this season. With a 25-15 record in the competitive West, many often overlook this team and its leaders.
The Warriors have struggled as of late, going just 5-5 in their last 10 games. Understanding that prior to this the team was 20-10, it gives perspective on just how well this duo is playing and leading their team back to contention.
Enough perspective to see them in Houston in February? Only time will tell.