When the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves get announced on Thursday, David Lee figures to be paying very close attention. The Knicks forward has put together a remarkable season thus far. He's got 33 double-doubles, best in the league, and has had eight in a row to help the Knicks to their best results of the year. He's fourth in the league in rebounding with 11.5 a game and he's shooting 57% from the floor.
That sounds like an All-Star until you take a look at some of the other candidates for spots on the team. Paul Pierce and Rashard Lewis are doing fine work for teams that are running away with their divisions and have staked claim to spots on the team. That's a pair of backup forwards. And, because the fans voted in Allen Iverson, Joe Johnson is guaranteed a spot at guard. He'll likely be joined by at least two of Mo Williams, Jameer Nelson, Mike Bibby and Rajon Rondo. Chris Bosh and Danny Granger are scoring a lot for losing teams, but one is likely to get a spot.
Things close up quick, in other words. Lee's got as good a case as many of these players and he also has something that none of his competitors can claim. Lee's spent a lot of time at center this season, where only Dwight Howard, the starter, qualifies as an All-Star. Now, he's only a center because Mike D'Antoni's his coach and because the NBA as a whole has gone away from the old style, back-to-the-basket centers, but, when in Rome ...
That's good for Lee who may have been squeezed out otherwise. Because of the center shortage, his chances are greatly improved and it's a good bet that the Knicks will have a player in the All-Star Game for the first time since 2001.