David Lee: 3 Defensive Issues He Needs To Fix

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Isolation

Mar 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee (10) reacts to the foul call against the New York Knicks during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

According to mysynergysports.com, Lee allowed 0.94 points per possession against isolations, 277th in the league. At this point in his career, it is highly unlikely that Lee becomes an above average defender. He isn’t very athletic or mobility.

Despite his physical disadvantages, many of Lee’s defensive issues are a product of poor fundamentals, which can be fixed. His footwork and initial positioning is often flawed, and he has a tendency to bite on most pump fakes.

Here, Lee is defending a big man, LaMarcus Aldridge, in an isolation situation. For one, Lee’s initial stance is problematic because he is completely vertical on the catch and barely bends his knees once Aldridge turns to the basket.

Additionally, his positioning is also an issue because he is positioned as if he wants to force Aldridge to his right towards the baseline, as most defenses would. Lee has his body oriented correctly, but is not actually denying Aldridge any lane. He should be a step closer to the elbow, completely preventing Aldridge from getting to the middle of the court. That would prevent him from turning the corner to his right.

Instead, Lee allows Aldridge to go left into the middle of the lane, and that’s where his atheltisicm hinders him. As Aldridge turns back, Lee reveals another one of his defensive flaws: when he should simply hold his position, Lee jumps forward.  This could prevent Aldridge from taking a shot, but he had a nice counter move. Moving into rather than holding position against an offensive player generally results in a foul. According to mysynergysports.com, Lee commits a shooting foul on 8.6 percent of the isolations he faces.  This, along with non-shooting fouls, increases individual foul trouble and brings opponents into the bonus.

Lee’s positioning and footwork issues also affect him against perimeter players.

Here, Lee is switched onto Tony Parker, following a pick-and-roll. Against Parker, he should focus on not allowing an open jumper because Parker will be able to get a relatively easy jumper regardless of Lee’s defense, while allowing him into the lane allows a layup and opens kick out opportunities to higher value three-pointers.

Once switched onto Parker, Lee should immediately sag towards the paint, as it is highly unlikely that Parker takes an off-the-dribble three. Also, Lee does not position himself well enough to keep Parker out of the middle of the court.

Lee follows Parker towards the sideline, allowing Parker to cross back over and get to the middle of the key. This is obviously easier said than done, but Lee should attempt to force Parker baseline, where he can be corralled without forcing help defenders to leave wide-open shooters.

Despite several years in the league, Lee does not have the defensive recognition and fundamentals necessary to compensate for his limited athleticism.

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