For years, Lee hasn’t had “four” years. He’s been masquerading as a “five.” I’m positionally agnostic, I believe that coaches place too much stock in the idea of fixed court roles. But consequences come with being your squad’s biggest big. As the “center” Lee was often forced to play the other team’s Frankenstein. It wasn’t all bad for undersized Dave. He got to slip screens and slither around ogres like an eel passing rock crags–DL could often get rimward on pick-and-rolls because his marker trundled far behind. That ogre would exact revenge on the other end: Goliath pounded David with the dull bludgeon of post moves.

The Warriors starting lineup has been released, we know Lee will fill a new role. He’s a four for now–until Biedrins hits the floor clutching his abalone-soft abs. The question is, will Lee’s productivity change? Was his notoriously bad defense a result of miscasting? I asked Knicks-obsessed Disciples of Clyde co-host, Dan Filowitz:

“He is definitely below average on defense. It wasn’t all about playing out of position. He has no vertical game, and doesn’t use size to compensate. He is slow to rotate and slow to recognize what’s going on.That said, he could be passable with more effort and a real center to play with that could cover up some of his mistakes. And he is a fantastic rebounder, so that helps.”

So Lee’s bad D was far from mirage, but it could be cloaked in this new situation. Note: I’m amazed that Filowitz had time to answer that question in between visions of Stoudemire making rims melt to the tune of Randolph-powered fastbreaks. Behold, the mighty Bockers. Speaking of Stoudemire, David Lee fared very well against STAT in their two battles last year. Amare averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds in the contests, which either means a) Small sample size, Ethan you’re grasping at invisible straws or b) Lee can defend other power forwards. The Suns presented an unusual situation to the Knicks because they too, often five their fours, giving DL a true matchup. For those wondering, traditional center Robin Lopez was only a non garbage time factor in one of the games. On this freckle of evidence, I’ll hope that David Lee will win DPOY, er, improve marginally.

But, will downsizing positions hurt Lee’s offense? His pick and rolls will be tailed by swifter, slighter men. Not only that, but the center who used to guard Lee might be waiting to block his shot at the rim. This is where Stephen Curry can help–and where Chris Duhon probably couldn’t. Steph must shoot fear into defenses with each shot, and in doing so, expand David’s opportunities. My second hope is that Curry’s jumper helps Lee more than David’s old speed advantage ever did. I can only hope these hopes aren’t delusions, that David Lee’s scenery change propels the Warriors to greener pastures.


4 Responses

  1. AJ

    Amare is a good player but definitely not a cornerstone to a franchise. NY took what they could get in a desperate attempt for a big name when they knew they weren’t going to get any of the so called “Big Three”. GSW is lucky to never have signed Amare and are way better off with Lee who should thrive given he has some talent around him with Curry and hopefully Ellis, who looks to have matured greatly in the off-season. Also getting rid of Cohan and Nellie should be a big positive injection into the Warriors.

  2. Mr. Baloncesto

    It’s amazing how much being a “big name” helps in the NBA. Are you taking 21, 9 boards, and 54% shooting, or 20 ppg, 12 boards on 55%? Both played in run n’ gun systems, so pace isn’t an issue, and Amare’ played in a system that revolved around him with a world-class point guard. Lee had to take what he could get with the shot happy Knicks. The 1st numbers are Amare’s, the 2nd Lee’s, by the way. I’d take the lesser talent here; Lee’s high motor and nose for rebounding are more valuable to ME than STAT’s superior scoring and athleticism.

  3. evanz

    Seems to me we won a few years ago with Al Harrington playing PF. I’ll take Lee, thank you, very much.