The first domino dropped Thursday in the Warriors’ bid to get their first All-Star selection since 1997. Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul was voting in as a starter for the Western Conference.
That means Houston guard Jeremy Lin, a global celebrity who finished 45,000 votes behind Paul in the voting, does not take up a potential spot from one of the Warriors hopefuls, point guard Stephen Curry or forward David Lee.
With the starters for each conference set, the coaches in each conference will now vote on the seven reserves. They received their ballots on Thursday. TNT will announce the reserves on Jan. 24.
David Lee is having a typically product year, averaging 19.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists. And unlike in year’s past, Lee is doing it for a winning team. Golden State is nine games above .500. With two All-Star regulars at his position (Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Love) likely out of the mix, Lee’s chances look much better.
Curry is shooting just 43.7 percent, on pace for a career low. But he’s putting up career numbers: 20.2 points, 6.6 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals. And he’s done it with opposing defenses gearing up to stop him.
Still, the Warriors stars aren’t locks. Many of the seven spots are all but secure. Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook, Memphis forward Zach Randolph and at least one San Antonio Spur are locks to make the team (either guard Tony Parker or big man Tim Duncan).
That leaves a maximum of four spots available. Lee and Curry are contending with Houston’s James Harden, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge (throw rookie point guard Damian Lillard in there), Memphis center Marc Gasol, one of the Spurs’ stars and even Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford.
It’s looking good for the Warriors. Lee has the numbers. When you compare him to the remaining front court players, only Duncan is having a season that rivals Lee’s.
Curry is the one opposing coaches fear the most. So if it comes down to one Warrior making it, coaches may be more impressed with what Curry has accomplished.