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Winderman: David Lee? Really?

Feb 11, 2010, 8:20 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for nba_lee_250.jpgEditor’s note: From time to time, Ira Winderman will jump in with
longer analysis of some bigger issues. These “Quick Takes” appeared
previously as stories on NBCSports.com and will now appear within ProBasketballTalk instead.

This had better be one of those rest-of-the-story stories, where we find out after the fact that David Lee received his All-Star replacement berth because Josh Smith was out of cell range, Shaquille O’Neal had previous engagements, Andrew Bogut politely declined, Ray Allen was preparing for a potential trading-deadline relocation and Joakim Noah didn’t have a foot to stand on.

Because if David Lee, for all his impressive (if not somewhat hollow) numbers is an All-Star, then the NBA’s annual classic has severely lowered it standards.

Yes, 20 and 11.4 carries plenty of weight.

But how many opponents game plan with Lee as defensive focus?

Probably not nearly as many as those trying to keep Smith from getting out in transition in Atlanta.

Or those fronting Shaq in the post.

Or those rotating a second defender toward Bogut.

Or meeting Allen at the 3-point line.

Heck, David Lee isn’t even the best David Lee in the East this season. That would be the Bulls’ Noah, who has been slowed only by his foot woes.

Yes, the Hawks might not merit three selections, but Smith remains as egregious an oversight today as the day Al Horford was named a reserve alongside Atlanta teammate Joe Johnson.

And Cleveland still remains with a solitary All-Star, with Shaq having emerged as force this past month as the league-best Cavaliers play with a bare naked backcourt.

As for Bogut, his team is on the move, putting the pressure on Dwyane Wade and the Heat for that final playoff berth in the East.

The Jason Kidd emergency selection in the West made enough sense with its hometown angle, considering, with the latest weather developments, that already being in Dallas is emerging as a prime selection criteria. Heck, if Kidd couldn’t make it, the next call was going to J.J. Barea.

But just like the ridiculously rostered Pro Bowl, where Yeremiah Bell somehow was issued a jersey two weeks ago, if being a hustle player is all it takes to make it to the NBA’s annual showcase, then the talent pool isn’t nearly as deep as previously thought.

It is getting to the point where baseball’s policy of one-player-per-team might as well be adopted.

That way, if Lee, too, had been out of cell range, we then could have witnessed the athletic delight that is Wilson Chandler.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

  1. RW - Feb 11, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    The Knicks certainly are not one of the better teams in the league, but that doesn’t mean David Lee should penalized by being associated with them. This guy has surpassed all expectations. He can rebound, pass and shoot with some of the best, and is also an extremely hard worker who is being rewarded for his efforts by being named to the team. He deserves it. Your headline (David Lee? Really?)is insulting as well as misinformed.

  2. Steve - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:21 PM

    Way to chase ratings Stern. Lee is a total scrub who is merely getting D’antoni stats on a terrible team.
    He is going to get overpaid by some moron Gm this summer and then will fade into oblivion.
    Worst all-star pick since Magloire, and that is saying something considering Mo Williams was there last year.

  3. Alan - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:53 PM

    Let’s call this game what it is. It is a glorified pick up game. Players are not picked by what they have done this year but what they have done over the course of their career. Shaq has been pretty irrelevant for most of the season but has one good month and suddenly that means he is all star material. Josh Smith couldn’t hit a 2 foot jumper to save his life. He is this generations Shawn Kemp. I could be wrong but I think Bogut was picked one or two in the draft and what has he accomplished? Lee is deserving of the opportunity and probably could care less what the writer thinks.

  4. Tom - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    I agree with Josh Smith, but Shaq as an all-star is a joke. 11 ppg and 7 rebounds. He also turns it over twice a game. They can’t play him in crunch-time and it is a lot easier to produce when you’re playing along-side Lebron James. My biggest problem though is you can’t have an all-star who plays 23 minutes a game. That’s ridiculous.

  5. Jim - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    D’antoni stats? The Knicks are only playing at an average pace this season, so that doesn’t hold water.
    20 / 11.5, and the entire offense has been running through him for the last month.
    And if teams don’t game plan around him, who else do they game plan around on the Knick’s? You don’t think his automatic 18 footer of late causes match-up problems for opponents?
    If you want to talk about his liability on defense, you have a point there. But actually watch a game before commenting. The Knick’s are playing at a much slower pace this season and his offensive stats are NOT inflated and he’s turned into an effective point forward on the team.

  6. Steve - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    The knicks have the 7th highest total points per game in the league, so I would hardly say that the pace of their games is average. .4 blocks a game, 2.5 turnovers, yep, he has all-star written all over him.
    The guy is a scrub who is purely there for NY ratings.
    Scary thing is he will probably do ok in the game because the Knicks play glorified pick up ball as it is.

  7. Jim - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    Points per game is not the measure of pace. Possessions per game is.

  8. Steve - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    lol … they are 7th in the league on that stat also!
    at least research what you are saying before making baseless comments
    Lee doesn’t deserve to be there no matter how you cut it.

  9. Drew - Feb 12, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    Teams game-planning for a player is the not the criteria for all-star selection, production is. All the guy does is average a double-double and plays his tail off. No, he’s not winning any style points but that’s not relevent either.
    I think it’s also safe to say teams don’t gameplan around Josh Smith getting out on breakaways. Atlanta has several weapons to deal with, unlike the Knicks. You’ve got to gameplan for Horford in the post, Johnson on the perimeter, and generaly the TEAM’S fast-breaking ability, not one player’s.
    Remove your personal lack of enthusiasm for watching Lee play, he deserves to be playing in the all-star game.

  10. Jason - Feb 12, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    What do teams game plan for when they play the Knicks? Stop Duhon from shooting 3’s? Wilson Chandler from hitting consistant jumpers? Nate Robinson lighting it up with assists? David Lee is by far the best player on a bad team, and they did play .667 ball for almost a month in a half. People mock his defense, but because we have no true Center, he plays out of position. That being said he is the ultimate hustle player and holds his own on D, even if it’s not up to elite standards. Josh Smith is the third best player on a team that would be ranked 8th in the West, Shaq has been irrelevant for 3 years, Ray Allen is playing so bad their desperate to trade him, and I havent heard Bogut’s name all year. Give the man some credit and actually watch some of his games.

  11. Mike - Feb 12, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    Way to be out of control Ira. Even though I agree that either Josh or Bogut would have been more deserving, being as adamant as you are that Lee doesn’t deserve it is far-fetched.
    Where on earth did you see that Lee is only a hustle player? You’re stuck with last year Lee on that one. If you are strictly a hustle player you don’t get 11 rbds per game, D’Antoni’s system or not. Also did you see his jump shot? He is way improved in that area and if you leave him open he will knock it down from 18 feet constantly.
    I don’t get the fact that Stoudemire is an all-star and Lee, with arguably better numbers, more hustle and even more defense is not. If Lee’s stats are inflated by the system he plays in, then why isn’t Stoudemire’s?

  12. Ted - Feb 12, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    People watch the all-star game for the offense not the defense. Lee is just about the most proficient finisher near the basket that we have in the league, not to mention he is undersized. Your arguments scream that you have never watched a Knick game all season, considering the D’antoni 7 seconds or less offense doesn’t exist anymore. And your potshot at Chandler is a joke. Of course he would never be named an all-star; but to take a stab at his athleticism? Watch a game buddy.

  13. Skuds - Feb 12, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Tell the truth Ira. He’s not black, therefore he’s not worthy of the All Star game. You really think Noah is more deserving? As usual, your drivel and lack of competant writing is hilarious.

  14. Jeremy - Feb 12, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Do you actually watch basketball or do you just steal Bill Simmons’ jokes? Awful article.

  15. Jeff - Feb 12, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    Exactly who do teams playing the Knicks plan to stop, if not David Lee? The guys does 20-11.5 with a 55% accuracy. He takes less than 15 shots a game and gets 3.5 assists. You can argue that Josh Smith might be more deserving, but to trash Lee is unfair. He is certainly more worthy than Iverson, who he replaced.
    No one trashed Steve Nash for his D’antoni in Phoenix. They gave him some MVP awards.

  16. John - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    David Lee deserves it…HANDS DOWN!!!

  17. Frank - Feb 12, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    I think the writer of this story is racist against a good white player with good stats. David Lee is no flight by night player. He was a mcdonalds all american and also a mcdonalds all american slam dunk champion. I bet if this was a black guy with his same stats you would not complain

  18. vince - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    I really believe that guy is a BLACK ONLY RACIST. Geez I’m 83 years old and I’ve seen a lot of sports in my time.IMO, I think that this whole league is a BLACK ONLY haven. I also think the young man is very astute and simply outsmarts and thus outplays his black oponents for the most part.Moreover, if you watched him play, the man has to make his own stats simply because he has several “black hole players” around him. That is why David Lee leads aLL CENTERS IN THIS LEAGUE IN ASSISTS. If that poster saw Lee play last week against the Lakers when he scored 32/18/and 9 (assists) against the likes of BYNUM,Gasol/(at the same time and MORE than hold his own,and have even KOBE state after the game that Lee is an allstar I believe your bias against a smart intelligent white basketball player do more than well in this NBA!

  19. HoopsMcCann - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Vince beat me to it. As a Laker fan Lee almost beat the Lakers single-handedly in that game and would’ve ruined their mediocre 5-3 road trip. Lakers pulled it out at the end. Rest assured that Phil J and his crew will be focused first and foremost on the Knicks best player next time they play!

  20. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    you don’t know anything about David Lee’s game, what you say is ridiculous and clueless because they don’t even run plays for this guy, ALL he get’s is the clean-up and hussle points left for him.
    I will gladly take 5 David Lee’s any day, I might not beat alot of teams but I will have five class guy’s to roll out.Buy basketball for dummies and read it six times.

  21. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    He would skool your ass, make you run home crying to mommy, get your boyfriends ballz out ya mouth and wash off ya butt you bi-atch.

  22. colt13 - Feb 12, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    Lee is a walking double double and should have been an all star last year also. Josh Smith does deserve to be there, and still might, as others may back out.

  23. Ryan - Feb 12, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Steve Nash puts up ridiculous numbers with D’Antoni as a coach and he’s named MVP twice. David Lee puts up great numbers with D’Antoni as coach and every one says its ALL ABOUT the system. Right. And you’re really going to harp on his defense when the NBA is lacking that in extreme amounts?

  24. Pivster - Feb 12, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    NBA = WWE
    Sports entertainment only. When will all of you finally come to realize that? Falling ratings, plummeting attendance, lack of player skills and young players opting for pros instead of college degree forced Stern to turn a sport into entertainment about ten to fifteen years ago. All championship teams are predetermined prior to the start of the season. Players let each other play the game to a degree (much like wrestlers take bumps for one another) but the overall, end of season champs are predetermined.
    Wake up people. Look for LeBron and the Cavs to win over the Lakers in six this year so the ratings are high and stadiums sell out for the Finals. It’s all ready been decided by Vince McMahon, uh, I mean David Stern.

  25. Brodi - Feb 12, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    Pivster, finally someone with a voice of reason. I gave up watching NBA eight years ago b/c it’s a shell of the game it once was. No one can hit a consistent jump shot, the refs don’t call the game by the rulebook (I don’t think there is one anymore) and it’s not a team game anymore; it’s horrible.
    Why does not one reporter with ESPN, msnbc, or any other do an in depth piece on this sham of a sport? Becuase they’re afraid of what they’ll find … the truth. At least the WWE says it’s sports entertainment; the NBA still calls itself a sport. Shame on you David Stern and shame on all of the people that actually pay to watch that garbage.

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