Let's get this out of the way. I'm a Knicks fan and David Lee is and has been one of my favorite players to ever throw on a Knicks jersey since he was drafted back in 2004. So take this with a grain of salt if you want, but I absolutely believe that Lee should be representing the Knicks in the 2010 All-Star Game.
The NBA ballot for the game is an absolute joke. Lee is listed as a power forward when in reality he has been the Knicks' starting center for the past two seasons playing under Mike D'Antoni. So when you're looking at the centers in the East, his primary competition is Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Brook Lopez and Andrea Bargnani.
Sorry Shaq fans, the Big Aristotle isn't what he once was. Now among those three Dwight Howard is definitely going to be the starting center for the East team. That leaves us with Lopez, Bargnani and Al Horford as competition for Lee.
I'm not a guy that's big on judging players by their team's win-loss record, because most times it reflects the team's deficiencies as opposed to an indiviual player's true value, but the Nets are 3-37 and Lopez is their second option. Yeah I think he's good, but clearly something's wrong when in the East you can't be competitive with the fastest point guard in the NBA in Devin Harris and a young big man that has real skills in the post. I love Lopez, but you've got to be able to lead your team to at least double digit wins to get an All-Star nod.
So that leaves me with Bargnani and Horford. Once again I think Andrea is nasty and I like his ability to stretch the floor with his shooting ability, while also being able to score inside. I do think though that playing in Toronto behind a guy that gets as much attention as Chris Bosh does certainly helps him out greatly. Also a center should probably be averaging more than 6.5 rebounds per game, particularly a guy that is a legit 7 footer.
I got love for Horford, but compared to Lee, it's no contest. Lee is the number one option for the Knicks. Is that a good thing? No, but you could do worse. He's the best we've got and to his credit he has improved his game to a level very few thought he ever could as the No. 30 overall pick.
He has the ability to handle the ball from the top of the key, take his man off the dribble and has excellent court vision making him an extremely good passer off the bounce for a big man. He has added a consistent mid-range jumper to his game and even had Tim Duncan singing his praises after a game against the Spurs. High praise from one of the league's all-time great big men.
Horford on the other hand has the option of almost never being the primary scorer or playmaker for the Atlanta Hawks who have Joe Johnson and now Jamal Crawford off the bench to do that. He is able to simply post up, pick and pop or pick and roll and take what the defense gives him. Very rarely does he have to force the action or create for a loaded Hawks team.
He's leading all Eastern Conference centers averaging 19.1 point per game, shooting 55.8% from the field, behind Horford. However he has a true shooting percentage of 61.0 while Horford is 61.7. So Horford is shooting better than Lee, but not really by much.
Even while having to handle so much of his team's offensive burden, Lee is still one of the game's best rebounders, averaging 11.7 rebounds per game as compared to Horford's 9.9.
Defensively playing the center position, Lee has limitations, but he competes on that end of the floor and is a decent man-to-man defender, though his help defense could be improved considering his paltry .30 blocks per game. Horford clearly edges him out here with his average of 1.37 blocks per game, impressive for another undersized big.
We can talk intangibles if you're that kind of a guy too. Team leader? Lee has unequivocally become the team's leader in the locker room and on the court this season. He has sacrificed his natural position as a power forward to help the team and played undersized at the center position for the past two seasons. He's constantly communicating and is active on the offensive end of the floor setting picks, moving to open space and cutting to the basket.
It's easy to dismiss Lee's credentials with Knicks sitting at 17-24 and having been a league laughingstock for so long. Just take a look at the numbers though and compare the situation he's in to his competition. He's playing with less talent than almost anybody and even with defenses keying in on him, has found a way to improve his production, by working his ass off to improve his game. I am biased as a diehard Knicks fan, but that definitely doesn't make me wrong when I saw David Lee should be an All-Star.