Last season, David Lee was a huge part of the Golden State Warriors’ success, leading the Warriors into the postseason for the first time since 2007. He was the first Warrior selected to the Western Conference All-Star team since Latrell Sprewell in 1997. In the postseason, Lee was a non-factor due to a torn right hip flexor he suffered in Game 1 of the opening round playoff series against Denver.
The Warriors went on to win the series and made people think that Lee was expendable due to the incredible play of Harrison Barnes. The Warriors would end up losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the next round in a tough series with Barnes playing well at the power forward position.
In the offseason, however, the Warriors made it clear that Lee was in their future plans when they acquired Andre Iguodala to be their starting small forward and demoting Barnes to the bench. Lee has shown no ill effects from his postseason injury and is playing at an All-Star level for his second consecutive season.
This season, Lee is averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds per game, completely changing his game. Last season, he was completely reliant on his elbow jumper, but this season, he has lived in the lane. Lee leads the NBA in points in the paint, using a variety of flip shots and using both hands equally well.
Lee has been much maligned for his defense as well but when you need him to shut one of the elite power forwards in this league, he can execute that plan. It was never more evident than on Sunday night against LaMarcus Aldridge where Lee shut him down to the tune of 2-for-14 from the field, limiting to just 10 points.
Aldridge, a likely All-Star reserve, is probably the best power forward in the Western Conference, but on this night, Lee looked like the more dominant power forward. Lee outscored Aldridge, 17 to 10 and outrebounded him, 12 to 11. It is nights like these that show how good of a player Lee really is but most of the time, Lee is consistently scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
He is not flashy like Blake Griffin and does not shoot from long range like Kevin Love. He just goes about his business and helps this team win games. Aldridge will probably be named an All-Star reserve on Thursday night with Griffin and Love already starting in the game, which leaves two more front court spots on the team.
Dwight Howard will definitely get one of those spots, since he should be starting in this game over Love. This just leaves one spot in the frontcourt and there are a variety of players vying for that final spot.
Scott Brooks, the head coach of the Western All-Stars, could select Tim Duncan, but his game is much more conducive to a half-court game and the All-Star game is more of a run-and-gun matchup. He could select Dirk Nowitzki, but his team’s record is worse than that of Golden State’s. He could even select his own player, Serge Ibaka, but he does not score as much as Lee and is more of a defensive player, which is not preferred in an All-Star game.
Which brings us to Lee, who has been consistent all season and would be a perfect role player for the Western Conference. He can do the dirty work for the West by tipping in missed shots, setting screens for shooters like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and can run the court with ease for dunks and layups.
Plus, it would be awesome to see the Warriors with two All-Star representatives with Curry already starting for the team. It would mark the first time the Warriors had two representatives since 1993 with Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin.
If Lee is not selected, it is not the end of the world since he is playing through some nagging injuries and the Warriors’ ultimate goal is to win a championship. They need Lee to be completely healthy and continue to play with consistency as they strive for the postseason.