I thought this might be of interest to you guys, especially all of the David Lee haters out there. Deadspin did a recent article recapping some of the basketball data from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. The one thing that jumped out at me was the study that was done about how well a defender does near the basket. They used some high-tech stuff to figure out how well opponents would shoot when being defended by a certain guy.
David Lee came out as second-to-last on this list of 52 players, allowing opponents to shoot a whopping 62.4% near the basket. By contrast, over half of the list kept their opponents shooting below 50%, and the top three kept their opponents to under 30%. You can find the whole list here.
What's intriguing to me is how some of the other guys at the bottom of that list are some of the league's top defensive rebounders. Kevin Love, the league leader in that position, came in at 49th. Varejao and Monroe are also no slouches when it comes to the D-boards. There are some terrible defenders with no rebounding ability, so it's not a direct correlation. But it might be fair to say that part of the reason for Lee's lax defense is that he spends too much time worrying about rebounding, rather than stopping the shot.
Even though it might appear that David Lee's saving grace is his ability to defend the mid-range (where opponents only hit a third of their shots), the study doesn't stop there. It also accounted for how well a defender does when he's within 5 feet of a shooter. In this case, David Lee came in as third to last, allowing 53% of shots taken within 5 feet of him to go in.
Obviously, that category doesn't make the defender. Andrea Bargnani, who is absolute garbage at defending anything, was second best in that category. The caviat here is that Bargs is too slow to actually get to his defensive assignment most of the time, so he loses out in that sense. Lee, on the other hand, can't defend a shot even when he does get to hid assignment, which is very worrisome.
What do you take away from this study? Well, the main point I get from it is that David Lee gets a few more rebounds than he probably should, at the expense of the team's interior defense. Whether this is a good thing is up for debate, but what isn't up for debate is his terrible interior defense even when he does meet the guy attacking the basket. It's something that can be masked when the team is doing well. But if David Lee isn't producing offensively and he's turning the ball over, there's no reason for him to be on the floor at all.
Also, if Andrew Bogut, ever, EVER gets healthy, he's the perfect guy to anchor the defense next to Lee.