David Lee really, really wants you to see his abs — more on that in a minute.
The Golden State Warriors’ All Star power forward has completely recovered from the torn hip flexor injury that kept him out of the starting lineup for most of last year’s playoff run, according to Bay Area News Group’s Marcus Thompson II.
“I feel no ill effects whatsoever,” Lee told Thompson. “I actually feel a lot better moving around than I did even last year at this time.”
That’s obviously good news for the Golden State. The team has relied on Lee’s ability to score in the low post and rebound since his arrival in 2010. Even though Lee may see less playing time with the emergence of Harrison Barnes as a small ball power forward, the St. Louis-native is widely expected to be an important contributor as a starter next season.
Even more encouragingly, Lee believes the rehabilitation process improved his conditioning, which should have an effect on his defense.
The biggest thing is being in better shape. Having that extra endurance is going to help on the defensive end, being able to make extra-effort plays. It’s going to help me be more explosive, more athletic, which helps my overall game.
Lee strikes me as being relatively self-aware; at least as far as NBA players go. He has addressed questions about his defensive effort in the past and knows he has to improve if the Warriors want to make a run at a title.
Quality defense requires a lot of physical exertion, which becomes difficult when you’re a 30-year old veteran averaging 19-plus points per game. The most obvious example of this is Kobe Bryant, who continued to score at an MVP-caliber level last year but frequently missed assignments on the other end of the floor. Similarly (not comparing DLee to Kobe, humor me), Lee’s offensive value often masks his deficiencies guarding the interior.
Lee will never be an elite defender. That being said, any effort on his part to get in better shape as a means of improving defensively will remove some of the pressure put on Andrew Bogut, who suffered mightily picking up the slack for Lee, Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack last year. That’s a positive development for head coach Mark Jackson, who has placed a greater emphasis on team defense since taking the helm two years ago.
Finally, Lee apparently looks better post-rehab:
Lee, entering his ninth NBA season, already looks like he’s in midseason form. In the process of rehabilitation, Lee said he shed 5 percent of his body fat. He said his core is as strong as ever, which he playfully evidenced by revealing his ripped abs.
As I said before, David Lee has always seemed pretty self-aware. Hopefully, this display isn’t indicative of an indulgence for Michael Sorrentino mimicry. Those jokes stopped being funny two years ago, and I’m not sure anyone wants to relive that era. Stop encouraging this sort of behavior, Marcus Thompson. Blue Man Hoop won’t stand for it.