A buddy of mine recently asked me what was going on with David Lee. He wanted to know why Lee wasn’t even playing enough these days to keep in shape. I figured I may as well share my reply. Here’s what I wrote:
Well, the simple answer is David Lee is out of the rotation. Steve Kerr doesn’t think Lee’s one of the eight most valuable players on the team. It seems obvious Kerr likes his starting five, plus Andre Iguodala, either Mo Speights or Festus Ezeli, and then Shaun Livingston.
A few things are clear. One, Draymond Green is obviously a better and more effective player at this point than Lee. Last year, with Lee doing his usual thing on offense, and Green not where he is now, it was easier to keep Lee in the rotation. Plus, the stakes weren’t as high last year as they look to be this year.
You could also make a case that Kerr is simply playing his best defensive players most of the minutes. Lee and Speights aren’t great defensively, and they’re the ones who are in minutes-trouble. I’m not sure Lee ever got into good shape this year, and by the time he came back, the team already was off and running.
He came back but there was no real place for him. Then he couldn’t log enough minutes to get into better shape. Playing his way back into shape was never an option. Lee’s had only one game this year with more than 30 minutes. That’s pretty amazing.
Another thing is that if you look at the guys who are playing the most on the team, they’re all players with the ability to “switch” defensively. It’s a huge part of what the Warriors do on defense. Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Green, Iguodala, Livingston all switch everything on the perimeter. It’s worked extremely well for them.
Lee also has seemed to lose a little bit of his touch from the perimeter. I think it started last year, but he stopped consistently knocking down that 18- to 20-footer. I mean, he still makes it, but not as frequently as he had earlier in his Warriors’ tenure.
What I think is going to be most interesting is whether or not Lee re-emerges at some point. I think he’s almost got to. Think about it, there are another 40 or so games left for the Warriors if they want to win an NBA title. Twenty to end the season and 20-plus to win it all. Something is going to have to happen or a situation is going to dictate that Lee will play. That’s what I think, anyway.
There are too many more games left, it would seem. Despite not being the player he was, Lee still represents the Warriors’ best offensive big player and that’s going to be needed at some point, right?
One hurdle I think the Warriors might see in the postseason is that — at times — a lineup of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Green, Andrew Bogut won’t be able to score enough. Maybe I’m wrong but if Curry or Thompson struggle in that group, there might be a need for another scorer out there. Barnes would be a logical choice but there’s no guarantee he’ll be aggressive in that instance. Lee would know to be.
Lee might not be doing much now, but I still think we’ll hear about him down the line.
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