No, this is not another Kevin Love rumor.
This is not more speculation of where Kevin Love will end up or who so and so will give up for him; this is about love for David Lee. Not Love for David Lee, but “love” for David Lee. We have all heard enough about how good Kevin Love is and how great he would look beside our Splash Brothers, but I wanted to give an ode to our current power forward who has absolutely played remarkably for the Warriors over the years.
The critics say he is paid too much, doesn’t play stellar help defense, and… well that’s about it. The main knock on David Lee’s play for the Golden State Warriors is his less than perfect help defense. But first, let’s look at some basic statistics. Let’s look at these four power forwards’ last four years in the league and you can guess which one belongs to whom.
Can you guess which player is which? Let me tell you: Player 1 is LaMarcus Aldridge, Player 2 is Zach Randolph, Player 3 is Blake Griffin, and Player 4 is David Lee. The first three names are all considered to be elite power forwards in the game, but Lee is usually excluded from such discussions. At one point, Aldridge was in talks as a candidate for MVP of the NBA! Yet, comparing their stat lines (Player 2 vs Player 4), Lee looks better in more categories than not. But in this day and age, most people will brush common statistics aside and say that there is more to it than simply points and rebounds. What about defense that can’t be measured, or playing on-ball defense to make your man miss?
For this, let’s have a look at some advanced metrics:
In approximate points allowed per 100 possessions (DRtg) for the 2013-14 season, Lee allows 103 while Aldridge allows 104, Blake Griffin allows 104, and Zach Randolph 105. To put it simply, according to their defensive ratings, Lee is the best defender out of those four players. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; there are many factors involved in basketball and some statistic called DRtg shouldn’t tell us who is the better basketball player. Thompson had a DRtg of 106 for the 2013-14 season, yet he is known to be a lockdown defender for Golden State. Perhaps his DRtg looks poor because the Warriors always have him to guard the biggest offensive threat on the other team.
All this is to come to one conclusion and that is that Lee is in the same class as these players — he is elite. People can cite the eye test, the DRtg test, or the SAT test, but the fact of the matter is that Lee is one of the most underrated power forwards in league; he’s just paid like the best.
So no, Lee is not the best and maybe he doesn’t deserve all the of the $15 million that he gets from the Warriors (the highest on the team), but he is a darn good player. He has played hard and played well for this team for quite some time now and is one of the captains of the Warriors. We talk about moving his heavy contract all the time, but I ask you — Warrior diehards — to slow down, and maybe once in a while pause in the quest for Love for David Lee, and instead show some love for David Lee.