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Friday, September 27th, 2013 at 12:00 pm  |  65 responses

Top 50: David Lee, no. 43

A healthy Lee looks to solidify the Warriors as title contenders.

by Brendan Bowers / @BowersCLE

The final name called during the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft was David Lee.

Despite possessing the size and athleticism necessary for success at the next level, questions surrounded Lee’s desire to excel as a rebounder. Some politely suggested the Florida product would struggle inside, while others came out and labeled him soft.

During his second season with the New York Knicks, however, Lee would begin a career-long process of proving his critics wrong. He came off the bench to average a double-double with 10.7 points and 10.4 rebounds in ‘06-07, before emerging as an All-Star in 2010.

The following summer, Lee cashed in the 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds he had just averaged in New York by inking a deal worth $79.5 million to become a member of the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade.

On the strength of that payday alone, the kid from St. Louis had officially arrived. Lee had earned a spot among the NBA’s elite and would be compensated accordingly for the next six seasons—no matter how many games the Warriors won or not.

Dismissing the comfort of his new contract, Lee continued to work upon arrival in Oakland. He began the Golden State chapter of his career with goals of doing more than cashing checks and filling box scores. Through max-effort and consistency, Lee would not only live up to All-Star expectations but also help establish a culture of winning in the Bay Area.

During the five years he spent in New York, the Knicks posted a combined winning percentage of .341. Prior to his arrival in Golden State, the Warriors had similarly totaled only 55 wins in the previous two seasons. After elevating his game as an individual, though, Lee would go on to elevate the spirit of his new organization.

As a starter for 209 regular-season games in Golden State, he’s since posted 120 double-doubles. This past season, Lee led the NBA in that category with 56. The next closest player was Dwight Howard, who was eight double-doubles off Lee’s pace.

In the process, Lee would also average 10 or more rebounds (11.2) for the fourth time in his career, to go along with scoring 18.5 points on 51.9 percent shooting. More importantly, for the first time as a professional, the individual numbers Lee posted were also highlighted by a trip to the Playoffs.

While collecting 47 wins, the Warriors finished as the 6-seed out West before advancing to the conference semifinals. The idea of winning basketball that began with Lee’s arrival in Golden State has quickly morphed into goals of conference championships ever since.

Despite all he’s accomplished, though, the 30-year-old Lee may very well enter the ’13-14 campaign being slept on more than any player whose ever averaged at least 16.5 points and 9.6 rebounds for three consecutive years.

Coming off a hip injury that limited Lee to appearing in only six of the Warriors 12 playoff games, he seems to be lost in the headlines.

Superstar teammate Stephen Curry will continue to generate the majority of attention in Golden State for good reason. There’s also plenty of reasons to be excited about the newly acquired Andre Iguodala, the emergence of Klay Thompson and demonstrated potential of Harrison Barnes.

But at the same time, it’s also important to remember where this Bay Area run began before projecting it forward. This new culture of success started in earnest with an underrated prospect who went on to make his second trip to the All-Star game last season.

The same player who will prove more critical than most people expect as his team attempts to further advance in the Playoffs this year.

Working with skills coach Drew Hanlen this summer, Lee has focused on improving his jump shot along with his defensive footwork. According to Hanlen, Lee has also trimmed down to eight percent body fat with training camp set to open later this month.

After undergoing surgery in May to repair his injured hip, the Warriors big man also told the San Jose Mercury News recently that he’s back to feeling 100 percent.

“No ill effects whatsoever,” Lee said, with respect to the injury. “I actually feel a lot better moving around than I did even last year at this time.”

If that holds true, expect the player whose proven to be much more than a walking double-double to advance the winning culture he helped build to new heights in ’13-14.


Where should David Lee rank in the SLAM Top 50?

Loading ... Loading ...
SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • Omar

    Whining about defense in 5…4…3……

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    2…1….
    .
    I’d defend this selection. But then I’d be putting in more defensive effort than David Lee has in his entire career.
    .
    Boom, roasted.

  • Dundler

    Hope that defensive footwork coach is really, really good.

    In seriousness, I like Lee in that hes efficient and cleans the glass but I thought he’d be more like 50-48 if on here at all.

    Hes a good guy, but just cant play D.

    (I’ve also never understood why he’s labelled soft)

  • Stepfan Raiford

    David Lee’s defense > Al Jefferson’s Defense

  • Dundler

    Weirdest thing about this…he’s already 30??

  • i_ball

    He cut down 8% body fat, how much does he have now?

  • anonymous

    white = soft

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    That’s like saying,
    .
    Poop > Diarrhea

  • LakeShow

    Insert yesterdays feelings on Jefferson here.

  • Chubachuchi

    lol

  • LakeShow

    Just read on Roy Hibberts twitter than he is up to 290lb’s…

    Pacers are much better because of that alone. Watch out East…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    why in the world is him getting to 290 a positive? he is already too lumbering for the regular season. now he just put on MORE bulk? i don’t see a benefit showing up until the playoffs….if at all.

  • Junior Taylor

    Thank you. Unless you’re Shaq or Wilt, running up and down a basketball court carrying 290 pounds puts too much pressure and wear/tear on one’s knees.

  • davidR

    i think he tries, but he just cant defend

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    don’t ruin my joke Warriors fan

  • davidR

    gotta stand up for my dude

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    even Shaq consistently had to shed weight. just some times it was during the season. if 300lbs was a lot for Shaq who was basically LeBron to Hibbert as Steve Novak, then I can’t express the fear i feel from Hibbert gaining 20lbs

  • LakeShow

    When he’s putting up 17-10-3 this year and the Pacers are leading the East, we’ll talk again.

    He’s not geting any less lumbering is he? You want him to drop some lbs so he can speed up?…

    I’m sorry but you sound like a fool right now. When a highly skilled but skinny center puts on over 25lb’s of muscle(not “bulk”), that’s a very good thing.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    17-10-3? — he just had a season of 11-8-1
    .
    you think that’s going to change because he averaged 17PPG in the playoffs…and i’m the one who sounds like a fool?
    .
    look in the mirror.

  • spit hot fiyah

    underrated offensively, not good at all defensively. i like this ranking

  • LakeShow

    11-8-2.6…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    hold on….you think he’s going to average 3 blocks a game? How many minutes are you under the impression a 290 lb 7’2″ Center will be playing? he has NEVER ONCE played more than 30mpg….and he just averaged 36 minutes in the playoffs…and in those playoffs, he averaged just 1.8 blocks per game.
    .
    yet, you think he’s going to do that for a whole season.
    .
    talk about sounding like a fool.

  • LakeShow

    I may sound like a fool, but it is you that will actually be made to be one.

    I realize how foolish it sounds to think an improving center might put up the same amount of bpg he did last year the next. So foolish…

    Wait… nope, sounds about right…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    you don’t realize how foolish it is to ignore every season of a guys career, while counting on the playoffs, in 7 more minutes then he has ever played, as your evidence for what he is becoming?
    .
    and in what way do the Pacers even need him for that much production? there is a reason he doesn’t play heavy minutes in the regular season. and the team just got Luis Scola. — which provides even more leeway to rest him.
    .
    yes, you sound like a fool.

  • LakeShow

    17 is a bit of a reach. Sorry. 15-10-3 lol… You’re weird dude.

    No Scola does not take away mins from Hibbert. I highly doubt they run Scola or West at center.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    ahh that’s cute. David West played some Center last season in short minutes. Scola has always played about 10% of his minutes at Center. —– oh, and the Pacers still have Ian Mahinmi who played 17 MPG last season, while sharing time with Tyler Hansbrough…so he’ll probably get more minutes too.
    .
    at the very most, Hibbert puts up 14-9-2.5 in 32 minutes.
    .
    that’s the most they would even need out of him.

  • LakeShow

    No. Cute has nothing to do with what has transpired here. Weird word choice.

    Yeah, 14-9-2.5… or …15-10-3… Two different worlds there.

    No. West and Scola will not be playing center. At most for 5 mins a game between the both of them.

    Now, Mahinmi will still get PT at center, but I see it decreasing to around 12-15mpg with Hibberts improvement.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    at very best, Hibbert will be worse than you are predicting. It is two different worlds. you are putting things that are proven to be above Hibbert’s ceiling in the regular season, as expectations for him to achieve. it’s foolish. and 15-10-3 is something no player has done in the last…….13 years —- DAVID ROBINSON was the last person to put up 15-10-3….but you EXPECT Roy Hibbert to do it….for no logical reason.

    so now, in your imagination, Hibbert will be playing close to 35 minutes a game.
    .
    ok buddy. that makes perfect sense. the Pacers should totally do that.
    .
    nah. just kidding. Scola/Mahinmi will probably play about 20 ish minutes a night at Center. Hibbert will still play around 28 minutes, have similar regular season numbers to every year of his career. The Pacers will win 52ish games. And you will pretend you saw that coming all along. That’s what will end up happening.
    .
    Roy Hibbert isn’t having the best statistical season from a Center in the last 15 years. To “expect” it, is foolish. As i think has been more than proven here.

  • eyh

    pretty much like bill laimbeer

  • LakeShow

    15 -10 -3 means 14.5 – 9.6 – 2.7 …. It’s called rounding up, a very typical and routinely used idea.

    Hibbert will be up over the 30 minute barrier this season.

    The Pacers will win closer to 60 games than 52.

    ………………………………………………………………………………….

    What is with you and outlandish statements like “Roy Hibbert isn’t having the best statistical season from a Center in the last 15 years”….

    WHAT?

    How is 15-10-3 better than 20 -14 – 3 (Howard circa 2008-09)?

    How is 15 – 10 – 3 better than 28 – 11 – 2.4 (Shaq 2002-03)?

    How is 15 – 10 – 3 better than 23 – 13 – 3 (Duncan 2002-03)?

    The list goes on…

    You’re right about one thing. Someone is being proven to be foolish here.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    so your way of proving me wrong is to say guys have had better seasons than 15-10-3, totally ignoring the fact that better players than Hibbert haven’t hit that number….ok, sorry i said, “best statistical season for a Center” — i should have said, “only season with those numbers in over a decade”
    .
    yep, you think Roy Hibbert is going to do something Tim Duncan has never done. Shaq did it …. twice in his whole career — but let’s get upset because i mis labelled it. like the actual accomplishment isn’t the foolish thing to bank on.

  • Guest

    Does this little tiff mean that @disqus_rOeXXBD2qs:disqus has to sleep on the couch tonight?

  • LakeShow

    With use of your euphemism: We argue every day… so I guess he always sleeps on the couch.

    But that would imply we are male lovers. Which we are not. We are both hetero-sexual males that have female companions. We also live several hundreds of miles apart and have never seen each other in real life. So no, nbk is not sleeping on my couch tonight.

  • Guest

    Oh ok.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    LOL like this was a serious question. that response was perfect.

  • LakeShow

    It was a stupid statement, hard not to dwell on it.

    Jermaine O’Neal
    Yao Ming
    Shaq
    Howard
    Ben Wallace
    Marcus Camby

    All have put up comparable or better seasons.

    Moving past that…

    I think Hibbert is going to have a beastly year. You do not. Let’s watch and see who the fool is.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    none of them with seasons of 15-10-3 though. And you originally said 17-10-3. i mean you already had to scale back your prediction once. and pretty clearly, you should do that again.
    .
    which is the whole point. Hibbert isn’t having THAT good of a season. there is no rational reason to think he is.

  • LakeShow

    What? None of them had exactly a 15.0 -10.0 – 3.0 season?
    Duh.
    You can’t replicate a season tit for tat.

    Plenty of them had over 20ppg over 10 boards and near 3 blocks so I don’t really see your point… at all.

    I think he is going to post 15 – 10 – 3.

    That doesn’t mean on the dot with the digits, it might look like, 14 -11 – 2.5, or 15.5 – 9.4 – 2.7, or 15 – 9.2 – 3.1… Neither you, or I know, but one thing is certain. He will improve, and the muscle helps him.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    We do not know those things for certain. The best bet with someone like that, the extra bulk will improve his strength, and take away from his endurance.
    .
    and just for the record, if you go back to last season, I let Hibbert’s playoff performance effect my opinion on the season. I even said he was the best player on the Pacers. So, this is stemming from experience, I’m not letting Hibbert’s playoff performance cloud my judgment of what he does in the regular season.

  • LakeShow

    All good points.

    We shall see.

    I may be letting his post season dominance play too large a part on the 82 games before that.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i do enjoy arguing with you. no longer do either of us get too defensive, even though we rarely agree. uh oh, a compliment. we must be the same person….

  • shockexchange

    Great choice. Lee is slept on, bus provides the size and inside punch the Warriors need to contend in the West. Get you some D. Lee.

  • LakeShow

    Naw they would contend with-out him just as well (due to depth).

    He’s a filler player. He’s better than Al Jefferson because of his passing, but there’s not a whole lot of value in his statistical accomplishments.

    I think they would be like the Grizzlies post Rudy Gay if Lee were traded. And I think that will happen so we’ll find out.

  • LakeShow

    Let’s high five our-self me.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i’ll pat yourself on my back for us

  • shockexchange

    Nah. After making SLAM’s Top 50 and getting a thumbs up from the Shock Exchange, Golden State will probably keep Lee.

  • LakeShow

    You have one terrible selling book and a website that you can’t funnel any traffic to.

    Shut the hell up.

  • shockexchange

    Funny you should mention “Shock Exchange” the book. Actually, the books are sold out. Libraries, schools, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and two Pulitzer Prize winning authors (who were used as source material) are clamoring for them. It’s just the best book written on finance and economics in the past 30 years. No biggie.

  • LakeShow

    LOL

  • shockexchange

    The Shock Exchange is not joking.

  • Max

    That’s what 4 years in college does to you.

  • Max

    Best reply of the month.

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