David Lee, the forgotten Warrior?


Even at 8-2, good enough for the third best record in the Western Conference, the Warriors are far from being a perfect team.

Several glaring mistakes have surfaced to keep the Warriors on the backburner in premature championship discussions. At 19.3 turnovers per game, the Warriors are last in the league when it comes to taking care of the ball. The bench production has also been minimal, with the exception of Marreese Speights. In the last five games, no bench player other than Speights has reached 11 points. Averaging less than 17 minutes a game, the Warriors rank in the bottom third when it comes to minutes and points off the bench.

For all the preseason hype about having one of the deepest teams in the NBA, the Warriors have yet to shown confidence in their second unit. With David Lee set to miss at least another week or two with a hamstring injury, the Warriors are sorely missing his brand of basketball.

In his prime, David Lee was a perennial 20-10 player, the lone All Star on the Warriors before the arrival of Stephen Curry. Even with all of the offensive responsibilities, Lee’s career average is a healthy 1.9 turnovers per game. With all the emphasis on moving the ball and getting clean, open looks, the Warriors sorely miss a go-to player down low. Andrew Bogut has yielded some solid possessions but he is not nearly the post player Lee is. With Klay Thompson now able to create his own shot on the perimeter, the Warriors would round it all out with a strong post presence. Speights has been able to deliver quality possessions down low and his minutes seems to have almost doubled. Having Lee back, even in a limited capacity, would help alleviate the pressure to hit shots from beyond the arc.

While Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes have thrived since being names starters, Andre Iguodala has all but disappeared in his bench role. It’s true that especially with players like Iguodala, the stats don’t tell the whole picture, but he is clearly not even the same player he was a year ago. In the eight victories this year, Iguodala averaged 6.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.1 apg and a combined 1.5 blocks and steals while turning it over 1.4 times. In the two losses, Iguodala’s averages dropped to 1.5 ppg, 2.5 rbp, 1.0 apg, zero combined blocks and steals and turns it over 2.0 times a game. Like Lee, Iguodala is not the most vocal player and being the emotional leader is not part of his MO. Although the starters are gel-ing well, the bench lacks the cohesiveness we have come to expect from Warriors basketball. David Lee’s veteran presence on the court would let Iguodala play to his defensive strengths and could help to facilitate the offense for the second unit.

With a healthy two-game lead over the Clippers in the Pacific and a slate of soft matchups on the schedule, the Warriors are still in great position to continue their strong start. However, many Warriors fans have developed a new taste for success and it’s the NBA Finals or bust for perhaps the most talented two-way team. With the trade talks in the offseason and lack of playing time due to injury, it’s easy to have forgotten the soft-spoken power forward whose arrival to the Bay brought back a sense of seriousness once unassociated with the club. The Warriors needed him five years ago to stabilize the tumultuous franchise, and they will need him again as they push for a championship.