Golden State Warriors Season Preview: David Lee

The Warriors’ 2014-2015 season is getting closer by the day, and it’s time to take a look at the roster. In the next few weeks, Blue Man Hoop will preview every player on the Warriors’ roster and predict his performance in the upcoming season. 

On one hand, you feel sorry for David Lee.

He has a great work ethic, is a double-double machine, and doesn’t complain. Yet, somehow, the general consensus among fans is that Lee is expendable, that he would just been a “shoe-in” if a trade was made for Kevin Love this past offseason. The contention that Lee is an awful defender trumps any consideration that he is an efficient offensive producer.

Lee receives perhaps the least amount of credit among the Warriors’ starters, and a look at his pros and cons may discern why.

What he does well

Lee’s game is mostly offense. He is quick, efficient, and crafty in the post, with the ability to finish with either hand. He can also draw defenders out with his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper, although that part of this game dipped last season.

Still, Lee can finish with the best of them in the key. Here he is backing down and scoring on a hook over Chris Bosh:

Lee is also a prolific rebounder, averaging 9.8 boards per game for his career. He has been a lifesaver for the Warriors on the glass since coming to Golden State, considering the Warriors used to be a weak rebounding team.

In short, Lee is a double-double machine, providing points and rebounds consistently.

What he needs to work on

Unfortunately, the “double-double machine” stigma sticks to Lee in a negative manner at times — or whenever Tim Kawikami writes a column about him.

There are those who think double-doubles are overrated, just a meaningless stat, and that Lee has major deficiencies on the other end of the floor. Of course, there was the paper from the Sloan conference a year ago that pointed out Lee as one of the league’s worst defenders.

Lee is not very physical for a player his size, and stands little chance when matched up against the likes of Blake Griffin (just look at the tape of the playoffs last season). Additionally, he has poor defensive instincts. Here he is completely vacating the lane allowing an easy layup when he should have stayed back on the screen:

Lee’s defense is something that opponents can exploit, especially when Andrew Bogut is not on the floor to help out. As much as Lee is a proficient scorer on offense, it almost seems like the points he allows on defense negates his positive qualities.

Best case scenario

Lee continues to average a double-double and re-gains his stroke on the mid-range jumper, which would be beneficial to Steve Kerr‘s new spread offense. Heck, he might even be able to hit a few threes and be the stretch-4 that Kerr has been trying to find (I might be kidding, but we’re talking best case scenario here).

Additionally, Lee’s defense improves. He becomes more physical and is more instinctive. He is no longer exploitable and Kerr won’t have to sub him out in games because he cannot matchup with a bigger power forward such as Griffin.

Worst case scenario

Lee’s mid-range jumper regresses and so does his offensive game. He still averages double-digits, but is not efficient and is a liability to the Warriors on both ends of the floor.

On defense, his weaknesses are clear and come to fruition even more. Sloan publishes another paper touting Lee as an even worse defender than James Harden.

Predicted stat line (averages):

19.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists