The Golden State Warriors only have 13 players under guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season, but for all intents and purposes they have 14. Damion Lee, Mychal Mulder, and Gary Payton II are all sporting non-guaranteed contracts, but The Athletic’s Anthony Slater reported in August that the team has already penciled in Lee to the roster.
It makes sense. Lee is a sharpshooting two guard, having dropped in 39.7% of his triples last year, and at 6’5” is long enough to play up a position defensively. He’s a smart player who rarely makes mistakes, and after three years on the roster is pretty familiar with the team’s systems. And he’s liked and respected within the Warriors locker room.
He’s a good guy to have around. But will he have a spot in this year’s rotation, once Klay Thompson returns?
Lee started to see his role diminished a year ago, as Kent Bazemore and Jordan Poole slid into bigger roles. Even before a breakthrough coronavirus case robbed Lee of the final few weeks of his season, Lee was getting inconsistent minutes.
Bazemore is gone, as is Kelly Oubre Jr., which would seem to signal more minutes for Lee. And out of the gates that will probably be the case. But when Thompson returns, it will plug that hole rather nicely.
It seems clear that Poole has leaped ahead of Lee on the depth chart, and while he’ll likely see plenty of time as a primary ballhandler, Poole will also play off the ball quite a bit as well.
Already with Thompson and Poole the Warriors have their shooting guard minutes pretty much filled out. And if Mulder makes the roster as the 15th player, he could very well nab whatever spare minutes remain — Lee is the better player, but it would make sense if the Dubs preferred getting Mulder’s superior three-point stroke in certain rotations.
Lee could play a bit on the wing, but the Warriors are pretty well stacked there with Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr.
Later this week I’ll map out what I see the minutes looking like for Golden State’s roster. But at first glance, it certainly feels like Lee’s path to consistent minutes lies in his teammates getting injured. That’s a luxury for the Warriors, even if it might not be the role that Lee is looking for.