David Lee: 3 Defensive Issues He Needs To Fix

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January 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) is fouled by Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) after attempting a shot in the third quarter at ORACLE Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 104-99. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In post-up situations, Lee’s poor defensive awareness and positioning is the main culprit of his struggles, while limited leaping ability serves to exacerbate these issues.  According to mysynergysports.com, Lee allows 0.84 points per play during post ups, 159th in the league.

Lee’s on-ball post defense is poor. He does not have the length to contest most shots and, as his unnecessary step towards Aldridge shows, he generally practices poor individual defensive technique. Not only does he commit a shooting foul on 12.2 percent of post-up situations, he will often will place both hands on the back of an offensive player, warranting an automatic whistle.

Despite his significant on-ball struggles, however, Lee’s post-up weakness is likely a product of poor positioning and off-ball defense.

On this possession, the Warriors are playing zone. Though many defenses utilize weak side zone principles anyway, a zone defense typically requires increased defensive awareness from big men, who must now deal with baseline cutters and post movement in addition to help responsibilities.

Here, Lee loses track of Kosta Koufos as he stands out of bounds (an action that may soon be disallowed). Even after noticing Koufos, Lee does not fully engage, allowing him to cut into the middle of the lane for ideal post position.

Even in man-to-man defense, Lee often allows deep post position, especially to roll men and after cross screens. He does not often appear to recognize the importance of post position and is rarely gives the effort necessary to force opponents out of this position. Again, Lee’s effort and positioning lead to defensive struggles.

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