When David Lee was signed and traded to the Warriors last summer, the move wasn't received well by many Warrior fans. In asking my friends and casual fans about the the trade, most of them didn't even know who he was. Many Warrior fans were upset that the Dubs gave up Anthony Randolph in the trade and then gave Lee a 6-year $80 million contract. Some even compared him to Troy Murphy while his numbers (20.2 points 11.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists .545% FG's in 2010) were brushed off as being inflated due to the system he played in with the Knicks. Some even argued that the Knicks were a better rebounding team when Lee was off the floor.
Compare that to the other offseason signings of Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudemire. All of which were met with great fanfare and media coverage while David Lee was simply pushed to the side, just like his numbers. Why? Seriously, leave a comment if you have an idea.
Now that the season has started we can take another look at those other signings in comparison to that of Lee's. Chris Bosh comes to mind as he and Lee's numbers were quite similar in 2010. When the Warriors signed Lee I tried to explain to others that he was just as productive as Bosh, and if the Dubs were signing Bosh everyone would have been excited, but none of that got through. Now that Bosh is struggling in Miami, no one seems to remember those once proud opinions of him.
At the time of writing this Bosh was averaging 14.8 pts and 6 rebounds a night while shooting .480% from the field, with his play being considered a disappointment by most. He has been criticized for lacking mental toughness, defensive presence and rebounding. His post game or lack thereof has also come under fire because now the whole country can see that he is purely a face-up power forward.
Lee was similarly criticized for not having any low post moves and not being a go-to scorer down on the blocks. Like Bosh he also wasn't known to be a good defender. Now that Lee is playing in the Western Conference against tougher competition, his numbers have come down in the scoring department but his rebounding is still the same (14.3 points 11.3 rebounds .464% FG's). Who knew that less than 10 games into the season David Lee would have been a better fit with Miami? That may sound crazy now, but it shouldn't have been back in July.
Carlos Boozer-who also has similar numbers to that of Lee-has yet to play a game for the Chicago Bulls after breaking his hand in a fall at his house.
Amar'e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks just gave up a 30 point, 30 rebound performance to Kevin Love, the first of it's kind since 1982. That resulted in a loss and dropped the Knicks to 3-6 in the process. While Stoudemire has outproduced Lee so far this season, he has not proven himself to be an upgrade over Lee in the same system that the Knicks run.
The Warriors have a better record than all of these teams through the first 9 games of the season and are reaping the benefits of Lee being able to fly under the radar. Has there ever been a more underappreciated player in the the biggest city in the world than David Lee? He had proven to be mentally tough having played very well in New York for 5 straight seasons, amidst chaos, turmoil and the most unforgiving media market in the NBA.
What about the other teams that should have gone after Lee but didn't? The Phoenix Suns are still trotting out Hedo Turkoglu at power forward where he continues to struggle for his new team as well. Grant Hill is their leading rebounder at 6.5 per game.
The Milwaukee Bucks were very concerned with Andrew Bogut's health heading into this season so they decided to spend their money on Drew Gooden, John Salmons and trade for Corey Maggette. Any thoughts on how a Lee, Bogut and Brandon Jennings trio would look now?
Even the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz should have gotten into the mix. Both had gaping holes at power forward and while the Jazz have been successful with Big Al, it is safe to say that Lee's passing and ability to play the pick-and-roll with Deron Williams could have improved the Jazz a bit more.
For the Thunder, imagine a starting lineup that featured David Lee at the four and Serge Ibaka at the five with Jeff Green sliding over to the small forward spot. With such great length at every position, the Thunder would have greatly increased their chances at contending with the Lakers this year.
David Lee is only averaging 14.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this year, but he clearly has had the biggest impact on his team when compared with the other power forward signings thus far. The Warriors are off to their best start in years and the best part about it is that Lee hasn't even started to show his scoring prowess yet. Sure he's not the most glamorous name and you might think he's a bit overpaid, but, why? I have no idea and no one else has been able to give me a good reason. I'm just glad everyone besides Larry Riley and the Warriors felt the same way.