NBA: Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets

With the emergence of Draymond Green among the fans, players, and coaching staff, David Lee has been the odd man out for the Warriors. Green has cemented himself as the starting power forward for Golden State. He has shown minimal to no signs of regressing or from being taken out of the lineup.

Green has had his share of nightmare shooting nights, but plays harder than the majority of players in the league. His effort and intensity are hard to match. While the team has had their egos in check in terms of who starts, plays 25 plus minutes a night, or who takes the majority of shots, it’s evident that Lee has not played like the player the Warriors have gotten used to seeing.NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Golden State Warriors

The Warriors acquired Lee in July of 2010 in exchange for the beloved Kelenna Azubuike, the young Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and a couple of future draft picks. The trade was huge for Golden State. The team had no true star player in the national spotlight at the time; they were still figuring out their backcourt and who to keep between Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis.

They lacked legitimate inside scoring. Lee was a double-double machine in New York for the Knicks. He was picked as an All-Star for the Eastern Conference in 2010. The Warriors did not have that type of presence on that team since the 90s. Ellis was good, but never made it to the big game in February.

Lee’s numbers decreased with the Warriors during the 2010-11 season averaging 16.5 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. However, he was playing with Ellis who took 20 shots per game, Curry who was still figuring out the league taking 14.2 and the infamous Dorell Wright shooting 14 shots a game himself. The team was able to win 36 games compared to just 26 the year before, but the Warriors and Lee missed the playoffs yet again.

Averaging 20 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game in the 2011-12; Lee adjusted to the Warriors culture. He was still playing noticeably bad on the defensive side of the ball, but he was closing in on his Knicks averages due to numerous different injuries on the roster. Lee got his first taste of playing with a legitimate center in a Warrior uniform when they traded Ellis for Andrew Bogut. Bogut was injured when the Warriors traded for him, resulting in Lee needing to make up for the scoring without Ellis.

Bogut played the season after and Lee was playing better defensive because of it. When Lee would get beat in the post, Bogut would play the rim protector role. Lee’s help defense got better. Not having the biggest length, speed, or athleticism, Lee knew he wasn’t the best one on one defender. But his IQ made up for it during some defensive possessions. He was slowly becoming a better help defender and he was being a vocal leader on a team that desperately needed one at the time. Lee was selected as an All-Star reserve for the Western Conference. It was the first time a Warriors player made the game since 1997, when Latrell Sprewell did.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Golden State WarriorsThe Warriors made it to the postseason for the first time since their glorious 2007 “We Believe” run. It was also the first time in Lee’s career that he played past Mid-April. The Playoffs was huge for Lee. Being regarded as one of the poster boys in the NBA for losing, playing some extra basketball helped. Unfortunately, it was most of the other Warriors who did the playing. Lee had a hip injury and was limited. The Warriors played 12 games, ultimately being eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semi-Final. Lee only appeared in half of those games, playing in 6 and shooting a disastrous 39 percent from the field. It was heartwarming to see Lee play despite being ruled out for the season right before he decided that he will play through the injury so he can help the team in the Playoffs.

This past year, the Warriors had one of their better ones in decades. Winning 51 games under Mark Jackson, Golden State looked like they were ready to make a serious run for the NBA Championship. The team had the best backcourt in the league in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Lee was just known as the third scorer to the Splash Brothers and the inside presence on the offensive side of the ball. He was no longer looked at as a top two player on the team due to the emergence of Thompson.

The Dubs played in a hard fought battle between their Pacific Division rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors would end up losing in seven games. Without Bogut, the Warriors gave it all they had until the final few minutes of the fourth quarter in Los Angeles as the Clippers looked like the better team at the time. Lee was heavily criticized for his no-show appearance and for being dominated by DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. He scored and rebounded less, his defense was non-existent and he was getting into foul trouble too often. It is unfair to put all the blame on Lee as he was going up against a monster of a frontcourt without his own 7-foot frontcourt partner in Bogut. Nonetheless, it was disappointing to witness especially when Curry needed excessive help to get past all the different defensive looks the Clippers threw at him.

NEXT: Draymond Green Takes Advantage Of The Opportunity

One Response

  1. snuffyjoe

    If funny to hear Lee and others say that he has “sacrificed” by going to the bench. What choice does he have? The coach won’t start him. I guess he could pout and tantrum. But, that won’t get him anywhere. He is simply playing the role that is being offered to him at this point in his career. The warriors have a defense-first mentality now. Lee doesn’t quite fit into that model. But, his D is good enough for the bench, and his O can really help the bench as well. The bench is where he belongs now. No shame in that. All elite teams need a good bench.