NBA All-Star 2013: David Lee won't go unappreciated


While the younger Stephen Curry is considered a snub, it's the Golden State Warriors' David Lee whose journey explains what those around the NBA appreciate the most.

NBA circles loop together, intertwine and leave very few players and coaches from crossing paths. It's part of a story that first begins with a somewhat awkward tension when then-analyst Mark Jackson bemoaned New York Knicks forward David Lee being named an All-Star reserve in 2010. Jackson was upset because Lee was part of a Knicks squad that would finish with only 29 wins by the end of the season.

In his second All-Star appearance, it's now David Lee of the Golden State Warriors who will play in the 2013 All-Star game in Houston. His coach is none other than Jackson. This time, no complaints.

The last pick in the first round of the 2005 draft, Lee was never expected to make an All-Star game. Beginning in his second year in the league, however, he was a double-double threat every night. Not an overly-skilled player at the time, the power forward from Florida bound his game to his energetic rebounding efforts, finding his points from easy shots created by teammates and many times from offensive rebounding.

But in a sport where some more talented pros sign off on their improvements so long as they stick in the league, Lee continued to grow. His shot attempts rose steadily throughout his career as his midrange game developed, and in Lee's fifth season -- the final year with the Knicks -- he was rewarded with a 2010 All-Star berth once Allen Iverson was ruled out of the game.

It was a weird happenstance that Lee made it to the All-Star game this season, especially when it would be easy to argue that Warriors point guard Stephen Curry was more valuable to the team.

Curry, easily the biggest All-Star snub for either the East or West teams this season, has been labeled as the best shooter in the NBA by many this year. The fourth-year pro is the engine that has made Golden State go as Jackson's squad has quickly risen to relevancy.

And as far as statistics go, Lee's five years in New York saw him hold significantly better shooting percentages and true shooting percentages as a player who scored off of garbage buckets. He's been a better rebounder percentage-wise in most of his eight NBA seasons, according to The 2012-13 season is only his third-best scoring and third-best rebounding season as far as pure statistics are concerned.

It's not that Lee is playing poorly that makes his selection an interesting one -- far from it.

So why then does he deserve a bid?

It goes back to those circles, the ones in the NBA that have watched David Lee out-rebound established NBA stars and out-hustle the other nine players on the court on a daily basis. Opposing coaches have grown tired of Lee's impact through every game coming from a player that walks like an All-Star, talks like an All-Star, yet is rarely an All-Star.

Lee's second All-Star bid also comes because the Warriors are winning. While Curry's involvement in the turnaround warrants a valid complaint, he's stuck behind veterans in Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Tony Parker, who have all done this consistently.

In other words, Curry's absence is the reason for Lee's inclusion. The forward has put in the years, continued to fight for his place on losing teams and never has taken steps backward in his development, no matter what his statistics might say.

Those NBA circles -- Mark Jackson now included -- appreciate a player like David Lee, whose will is greater than talent but whose talent has grown because of that will.


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