How good is David Lee? You won’t see his highlights on ESPN, you won’t see him in the All-Star game, and you won’t see him on very many nationally televised games. He plays for the Golden State Warriors, currently 3-4, along with the Lakers and Rockets.
But when you do watch him play, you quickly see he’s one of the best power forwards in the league. His scoring has started slowly this season but twice in his career he’s averaged 20 ppg. He’s nose for the ball and quickness on the glass puts him among the league’s best rebounders. Three times in his career he’s averaged over 10 a game.
Through the first couple weeks of the season he’s top 5 among all power forwards in rebounds and assists. His scoring will go up and settle somewhere in the 16-20 range. This is the supposed to be the season that he gets to play more minutes at his natural power forward position, but with Andrew Bogut in and out of the lineup and the other centers on the roster being unreliable, it’s up to David Lee and fellow 6’9” power forward Carl Landry to man the middle for the Warriors.
But Lee doesn’t mind. He’s done it all before. And he does it all on the court. Twice in his career he’s dished 10 assists and has multiple 5 steal games under his belt. He’s all over the place doing every little thing that sometimes you miss him. Find some highlights of a big three pointer from Stephen Curry and you’ll likely find Lee freeing him with a screen or passing him the ball right where he likes it. Watch the Warriors fast break end with a highflying dunk, then rewind it to see Lee snatching the rebound and sending an outlet pass to start the break. Three seconds later he’s at the top of the key, trailing the break, ready to set things up if it breaks down.
This season with David Lee, critics are pointing the finger at his supposed defensive weaknesses and his slow start scoring the ball, but he knows what he has to do and he puts it on himself to be a better player.
After Saturday night’s tough loss to the Nuggets, responding to whether or not Lee hurts them defensively, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said this, “I’m going to put pressure on him to be that go-to guy, finishing out possessions by rebounding the basketball. I would definitely say he’s not playing his best basketball. But I’m not concerned. Because I know how hard he works, he’s not pointing the finger at anybody else and he will respond.”
And he will respond. We know the player he is, and he will continue to be that. Nothing more nothing less, David Lee is not to be overlooked.