Often overshadowed by the flashy play and offensive fire power of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, power forward David Lee has quietly made an equal impact in the Golden State Warriors’ starting lineup this season, which makes him a necessary piece for the team’s success going forward.
Lee is the franchise’s only All-Star in the last decade and is on track to make another appearance in this year’s game if he continues to play at the level he’s playing at in averaging a near double-double with 16.9 pts and 9.2 rebs. The big man is by far one of the Warriors’ best players as he provides stability to a front court that struggles at times and has been viewed as one of the team’s central weaknesses.
We saw the impact of Lee’s presence on the floor in last year’s playoff series lost to the San Antonio Spurs when he was forced to sit out the entire series due to a tear in his right hip flexor. The Spurs backcourt took full advantage of Lee’s injury situation in attacking the paint and forcing the Warriors’ guards to carry the offensive load by jacking up jump shots from the perimeter. One of the key reasons to the Warriors losing that series was Lee’s absence because they became a one dimensional team on the offensive end in not being able to score inside the paint.
Lee provides another weapon to the Warriors’ offensive where he makes defenders pay with his inside game when they crowd the perimeter to guard the streaking shooting of Curry, Thompson and company. Additionally, he also carries the offensive load when the perimeter game is cold as we saw in last night’s game against the Toronto Raptors when the team fell behind as much as 27 points. The Warriors were able to hang around in the game due in large parts to Lee’s 18 pts and 8 rebs before the offense exploded in the fourth to come back and win the game.
The numbers that Lee is putting up this season do not give justice to the importance he contributes to the Warriors’ success and hopes of capturing a title this season. He’s the anchor the offense relies upon for points in the paint and keeps them grounded through times when points are tough to come by from outside. The Warriors need Lee and will rely upon him more than ever as they continue to battle in the very competitive Western Conference.