Zach Lowe: Who's on notice after deadline news?
This pertains to next season, since we likely won’t see Andrew Bogut on the court until then. If Bogut is healthy, we will finally get to test the premise that Lee can be part of an effective NBA defense if paired with a top defensive center trusted to play big minutes.
Lee gets better and better on offense every season. He has long been able to space the floor with his mid-range jumper and score on the pick-and-roll, but this season, he’s isolating more and working more often from the post — especially the left block. He has been very effective on both fronts, per Synergy Sports. A power forward with these kinds of skills should be an enormously valuable player, but the Warriors are allowing a whopping seven more points per 100 possessions with Lee on the floor this season, according to NBA.com’s stats database.
The same thing happened last season. Lee has played the bulk of his minutes in Golden State with two sub-par perimeter defenders in Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, and one center with a broken spirit in Andris Biedrins. But teammate flaws alone do not explain what’s going on; Lee has slow feet and a limited wingspan, and for a guy known for his off-court generosity with teammates, he can look surprisingly unenthusiastic about help defense on the court.
Even more damning: The Warriors, a very bad rebounding team overall, actually transform into an average defensive rebounding club when Lee hits the bench, continuing an annual tradition of Lee’s teams rebounding better without him — despite his gaudy individual rebounding numbers. The same teammate flaws come into play here, too, but the only evidence we have suggests Lee gives back on defense what he provides on offense.
That has to change for Golden State to make a leap, given Lee’s massive contract. Can Bogut’s presence mitigate Lee’s flaws enough for his offense to be as valuable as it should be?