How Do I Love Lee?

Let me count the ways. — E. B. Browning

Don Nelson, Larry Riley and the Golden State Warriors have just pulled off a trade for an all-star power forward, a trade that will define the next era of Warriors’ basketball.  And in the fashion typical of our wonderful Bay Area media, it was greeted by yawns and derision.  Some of these esteemed commentators, and their bellowing herds of followers, even arrived at the conclusion that the Warriors LOST this trade.  In their minds, because it was executed by the “old regime,” without the approval of the new owners, then it can’t be good.  And because Anthony Randolph is merely 21, while David Lee is all of 27, then Randolph automatically has a bigger upside than the all-star Lee.

Absurd.  Ridiculous. I am frankly incredulous of these opinions.  Have any of these people actually watched David Lee play?  Can’t they see what is staring them in the face?  Here is what I see looking back at me:

6-9 250 lbs.: Lee has the size to go head-to-head against the biggest NBA power forwards in the game.  The days of watching the Warriors get steamrolled at the power forward position — of watching Harrington, Wright and Randolph getting scraped off the floor — are over.

Extraordinary Toughness and Durability: Three years ago, Lee played 81 games.  Two years ago, Lee played 81 games.  Last year, Lee played 81 games. While upping his minutes to 37 per game.  If you are a Warriors fan, this stat alone should have you on your knees and weeping.  David Lee is not a boy, but a man, who comes to play every night, without complaint, against the biggest baddest players in the NBA.  And delivers.

Defensive Rebounding: Lee grabs close to 12 rebounds a game, 9 of those at the defensive end.  His critics say this is largely a product of playing in D’Antoni’s system.  What do they say about the fact that he has been played out of position his entire career, against much larger centers?  Or about the fact that he’s never played with another frontcourt player who could box out? Not much.

Andris Biedrins and David Lee will make up one of the great rebounding tandems in the league.  With this trade, the Warriors have gone from one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, to one of the best.  Their problems on the boards are over.  You can make book on it.

Running Ability: He’s not Anthony Randolph in the speed department, but Lee has no trouble beating his man down court and finishing.  He ran the court relentlessly in D’Antoni’s system.  At 250 lbs., that’s special.

Extraordinary Pick and Roll Player: Those of you who remember the night Lee and Duhon tore apart an exhausted Warriors team at MSG have a glimmer of what I’m talking about.  A glimmer.  Because David Lee has never played with a p0int guard like Stephen Curry.  A player who I think has already demonstrated himself as one of the top four pick and roll point guards in basketball (after Nash, Paul and Williams).  Working with D-LEAGUERS.

What goes into being a great pick and roll big man?  A big body and a desire to set great picks.  Extraordinary intelligence: knowing the plays, establishing chemistry with the point guard, making the right reads, the right cuts, the right shots, the right passes.  Great hands.  Great finishing ability.  Great shooting ability. Great passing ability.

David Lee has all of these things, in spades.  Warriors fans are in for some of the most beautiful basketball they have ever seen.  Beautiful half-court basketball. Stephen Curry has his pick and roll partner, and the results are going to be spectacular.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Curry averaged 10 assists this season, in his second year.

Ambidextrous finishing ability: Lee can flush it effortlessly.  He can also lay it up off glass with his right hand as well as his left.  Can you name me another NBA big man other than Pau Gasol who has that talent?

Unselfish passing ability: Lee is a talented passer, who averaged 3.6 assists last year.  Do you remember watching in the playoffs the rare occasions that Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol ran pick and roll?  The play went like this:  Kobe to the rolling Gasol, to the cutting Bynum, SLAM!  The Lakers could have run that play as often as they liked, but didn’t, because it wasn’t the triangle, and Kobe had a different agenda.  The Warriors, under Don Nelson, won’t have that problem.

On the occasions that Lee finds himself double covered in the pick and roll, this is what you’re going to see:  Curry to the rolling Lee, to the cutting Biedrins, SLAM! Or to the cutting BWright, SLAM!  Or DWright, or Udoh, or Gadzuric, SLAM!  And you’re going to see it over and over and over again.

Because like Pau Gasol, David Lee can really, really pass the ball.  And Don Nelson, unlike Phil Jackson, can really, really coach.

Low post moves: Anyone who thinks Lee can’t play in the low post has simply not watched enough tape.  Which means a lot of Bay Area media pundits have not watched enough tape.  Lee has a deadly lefty jump hook, that he can hit straightaway or off the glass.  And he knows how to get it: he has the body to get his position, and the handle to improve his position.  He has the strength to finish his moves.  And he has the passing ability to pass out of the post when doubled.

Having said that, I think Nellie will use him most of the time in the high post.

Nice Jump Shot out to 15 feet: Remember all of those Turiaf elbow pick-and-pops you used to pray over?  Remember those Randolph and Wright baseline 15 footers you used to cringe over?  Well, forget about it.  David Lee will bury that shot.  He cannot be left unguarded, the way teams left Turiaf and Wright and Randolph unguarded.

Which is going to make driving lanes appear for Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry that will make them very, very happy. Perhaps not quite as happy as the Israelites watching the parting of the Red Sea. But close.

80% Free Throws: In other words, a player who can and will get it done for you at crunch time.  A GO-TO GUY IN THE PAINT.  And the last time the Warriors had that was when? (Please don’t say Chris Webber.)

Defense: Since the trade I have read innumerable times that David Lee is a bad defender.  It always brings a smile to my face.  How do these genius pundits know that David Lee is a bad defender?  By his stats, his metrics?  By the stats and metrics of the New York Knicks?  Garbage.  Nonsense. I don’t comprehend how it’s possible to know anything about Lee’s abilities as a defender judging by his years on the Knicks.

David Lee played out of position for the Knicks, at center.  And he was left alone on an island in the middle.  His frontcourt partners were among the worst defensive players known to mankind.  Al Harrington?  Danilo Gallinari?  What sort of defense would you expect a frontline of this nature to play?

David Lee was never paired with a shot-blocker on the Knicks.  He had no place to route his opponents.  No traps to funnel them into.  No defensive scheme worthy of the name to execute.

That is NOT the situation in which Lee will find himself on Don Nelson’s Warriors.  For one, for much of the time he will not be played at center, but at power forward alongside Andris Biedrins.  But more to the point, on the Warriors Lee will be consistently paired with at least one terrific weak-side shot-blocker. Biedrins. Udoh. BWright. DWright. Even Gadzuric.

This will make Lee an incalculably better defender than he was on the Knicks.  A defender that the pundits have never seen before.  Lee’s job on defense for the Warriors will be to 1) play his man straight up; 2) Stand his man up, or in other words, refuse to cede him good position; 3) On catches, guide him into weak side help, ie. blocked shots; and 4) box him off the boards.  I believe Lee is more than capable of executing this job, and executing it well.  40 minutes a game, 81 games a year.

Which leads me to two final questions for the pundits:

1) Is defensive rebounding a part of defense?  Finishing a possession with a defensive rebound?  Because if so, then Lee is automatically a better defensive power forward than the Warriors have had in years.  The Warriors’ defensive rebounding is going to take a quantitative leap with Lee on the team.  Guaranteed. Which I think means their defensive metrics are also going to take a quantitative leap.  Which is to say nothing of their fast-break, and the most important stat of all, point-differential.

2) Did the pundits actually watch Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph play defense these last few years?  Did they watch them get steamrolled in the paint, get pushed around the court, get knocked to the floor?  Did they watch them get injured?

There is simply no comparison between David Lee and these matchstick men.  David Lee is not a 20 minute man, he is a 40 minute man.  David Lee is not a 40 game man, he is an 81 game man.  David Lee is not a fragile gazelle who shies from contact.  David Lee is a 250 lb. man who is big enough and strong enough and tough enough to play straight-up against the best big men in the league.  And dominate.

The idea that that will not improve the Warriors’ defense is laughable.

If you are of a bitter and depressive cast of mind, like our Bay Area media, then go ahead and mope and pine over the loss of Anthony Randolph’s promise. I think I know better. I think that if Andris Biedrins is finally healthy, and Don Nelson is retained to coach the extraordinary team that he has assembled, then a new golden era of Warriors basketball has dawned.

Beginning now.

56 Responses to How Do I Love Lee?

  1. Feltbot is back in town!

    Nice job.

    Getting excited.

    OK, now I’m curbing my excitement so I can get excited in a few months.

  2. “The Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors have completed a sign-and-trade for C.J. Watson, according to sources. Watson, who was a restricted free agent, will be dealt to Chicago in exchange for a second round pick. He has agreed to a three year, $10.2 million deal with the Bulls.”

    Our backup guard? I also read there aren’t many big men left and Tolliver might be in demand.

    Of course there’s still Shaq (oooof).

  3. Hmmm. I’ve never really believed the Warriors would give up Watson, but I suppose it makes sense. Monta Ellis is the backup pg. And Charlie Bell the third pg, now that CJ’s gone.

    I predict that CJ plays a huge role for the Bulls, even playing big minutes alongside Rose. The Bulls missed Hinrich fiercely whenever he was out. Because if DRose is a point guard, he’s a point guard in the Gilbert Arenas mold. Which is to say he’s not a point guard.

  4. Felt, great job. Right or wrong, I respect your opinion and basketball knowledge.

    I’m also a fan of Lee even though I admit I didn’t watch a lot of Knicks basketball last season. I’m really looking forward to watching David play 82 times a season (plus playoffs?) with GSW. I really believe that Randolph will turn into a very good player, maybe even better, in the NBA. He’ll get stronger, and mentally he’s nowhere close to mirroring players such as Milton Bradly or Zach Randolph in their younger days, IMO. He was so young, and still is, he just needs time to mature. Having said all that, I’m still excited about this trade from a Warriors’ standpoint. Again, great read.

    Was hoping the Warriors would keep Watson. His overall PG skills are only average, but he’s a good shooter who can make big shots at critical moments of a game. Plus, the Warriors bench is not one of their strengths as presently constituted. They need more bodies. Hopefully Tolliver is re-signed.

    BTW, I just copy-and-pasted your blog on David Lee over at Kawakami’s blog. He must have anything with the word “feltbot” or any links to your site on his alarm system. LOL After hitting “submit” my post was tagged with “awaiting moderation”, even though I’ve posted frequently there in the past. Any bets on whether or not he allows it to pass? LOL

  5. A great NY Times piece on Lee. The Warriors and their fans are lucky to have Lee for more reasons than I listed above:

  6. C.J. was a high energy player. It was hard to see him sit on the bench. Maybe he’ll get a chance to burn it for Chicago.

    Reggie could run the offense, for that matter.

    2nd. round draft pick? Is this a way to free up cash for. . . .

    for. . . .

    Or are they going to bite the bullet and sign Tolliver? Looks like his value as a big has gone up. I think I read Tolliver really wants to stay with the Warriors, maybe the reason they didn’t make him a restricted FA?

  7. Update: Kawakami canned my post. Nothing like censoring basketball opinions based solely on whether or not you agree with said opinion, or on whether or not you like the author.

    In a way I feel sorry for Tim Kawakami. His life is obviously centered around the sporting world, yet he so often comes across as that insecure fan at the local sports bar who’s forever throwing his opinion into the mix only to be laughed off by all his buddies. When that sports bar becomes your career as a journalist, even worse. Sad.

  8. Excuse the silliness but with months to go before the new season, what the heck.

    Felt, your header “How Do I Love Lee?” got me to wondering how much love Lee will actually get from Warriors fans? Personally, I think 99% will fall madly, even to the point of singing the following song as they leave Oracle after watching Lee and the Dubs play. (My only reservation in posting this was that my choice of music gives away my age big-time. LOL)

  9. Sad to see CJ and Morrow go with free agency but I am starting to get amped about next season.

    I see ‘at least’ a 0.500 team given a reasonable spread of injuries. The squad is more balanced and dare I say it, somewhat ‘traditional’. And the west is ever so slightly weaker at the 4 spot where our new strength is.

    I freakin’ love the David Lee deal. His attitude is first-class and warrior’s fan are going to eat up his hustle and style of play. The pick and roll is tantalising as you so eloquently put it… SLAM!!

    I hope Nellie gets the chance to show what he’s got.

    Keep up the great job, mate.

  10. I thought that some might be amused by my twitter exchange with TK. It certainly made my day. The below extracts miss a bit of the context but you will get the picture. Dude just doesn’t get it.

    Udoh may not play before he’s 24. Randolph has been hurt/erratic, but has 2 NBA seasons and he still isn’t 21. Don’t like it? Read others.
    Jul 13 2010 1:34 PM VIA web

    @timkawakami you are right. warriors couldn’t possibly benefit from experienced, level headed, good character guys.
    Jul 13 2010 1:38 PM VIA web

    @sburman Adonal Foyle, 10-time MVP.
    Jul 13 2010 1:54 PM VIA web

    @timkawakami ridiculous response but regardless i am happy to have him in the locker room.
    Jul 13 2010 2:08 PM VIA web

  11. nice crush

  12. FourSeasons

    Great analysis of the trade!!!

    Now let’s hope Locab will retain Nellie, and we will have tons of pick and roll by Curry and Lee next season.

    @Steve: I always know Kawakami is a jerk, you just confirm it with your story how he canned your post!!!

  13. Felt, I posted your blog on Marcus Thompson’s blog site with no problems. It was late so not many posts after mine but the two that did 1. Thanked me and 2. Thought I was either the Pres of the D Lee fan club or the new PR guy for the Warriors. LOL Here’s the link.

  14. Curry T28 in celeb golf tournament:

  15. Just heard David Lee now injured. Dislocated left middle finger.

    The list so far:
    B Wright


  16. curry and lee interviewed at team USA camp

  17. WheresMyChippy

    You should post this on GSoM. A few people over there could use an eye opener.

  18. Thanks for the link, Steve. Lin looks like a clone of Stephen Curry. (But he dunks!) Hopefully a great replacement for CJ.

  19. Check it out. Jeremy Lin taking it to John Wall in Vegas Summer League:

    I’m not sure how accurately we can project Jeremy Lin from these videos, but I am taking one thing away: John Wall might be one of the most overrated #1 picks in history.

  20. Felt, was Wall the numero uno pick or was it Lin? LOL Interesting.

    Here’s a good article from before the draft on Lin. It’s got some video clips that are well worth watching. This kid loves the Warriors AND, believe it or not, In-and-Out Burger. LOL

    This is from the Dallas Morning News. Don beats Donnie in getting Lin.

  21. Wall is going to spend the next few years trying to live up to the hype that’s been built around him — a daunting task. Lin has nowhere to look but up.

    I wish we could tone things down a bit.

    One thing’s certain. There’s going to be a different mood this preseason from last. These guys have come to play.

  22. Who is this guy Robson? I found his analysis excellent. Such a rare experience for me in reading NBA writers. Nice link, Steve.

    One move he left out is near the top of my list: Milwaukee signing Drew Gooden for what, around $30 million? Between Gooden and Jennings, I think its even money that Skiles goes insane next year.

  23. This was posted on MT’s blog. A great read about Lin and his family.

  24. Great read. Thanks, Steve.

    Another player overlooked by the NCAA — where have we heard that story before?

  25. Riley on the possibility of retaining George and Tolliver:

    I know this won’t make me popular, but I’m not convinced Riley is an idiot. Cf. Steve’s SI article, above.

  26. nivrag, I’m with you on Riley. I hope he stays. Listening to an interview with Riley today he talks as if the Lin signing was his idea and not just something that happened overnight. If true, and now that story about Tolliver and George, it would appear the new owners are in agreement with Riley’s on-going offseason plan. And if THAT’S true, Riley very well could be retained by Lacob and Guber.

    Here’s an interesting rumor concerning Chris Paul.

  27. Cover your eyes and ears, and hide the kids! It’s the devil incarnate. LOL Since Felt is an equal opportunity blog moderator I think this should pass as acceptable? Maybe? Possibly? :)


    Can we send the whole team to this guy, just as preventative measure?

    Sounds like Biedrins is getting healthy though. I recall the stat 100%.

  29. That sounds like a good idea nivrag! Great news tho that Biedrins is strengthening his core and looks to be 100%.

    Seems like he’s calling Nellie’s bluff on the free throws tho. :>

  30. Biedrins shooting underhand would be one of the ugliest and most embarrassing spectacles ever witnessed on a basketball court. People in the stands would literally turn around until it was over. Look, after all, at what he does to the standard shot.

    I’m not a baller — never made it past pick-up games — but last spring I went to the courts and tried this: I went to the free throw line, stood absolutely rigid, held both arms straight up, and just flicked the ball with my wrists. Pretty soon, I was getting them in. The point is there has to be something simpler he could try.

    Or maybe he could hire a choreographer so that his free throws at least would look like shots. This would save a lot of embarrassment.

    Or maybe his abdomen really was bothering him and he’ll shoot better this year?

  31. Anyone remember George Johnson from the Warriors championship team of ’75? Rick Barry taught him the “underhand” free throw shooting technique and Johnson improved to the point where he became very respectable from the line.

    I’ve tried it myself and it’s very easy to learn. It makes for a very “soft” shot so that you don’t need to swish every attempt in order to make them.

    Also, it’s not really shooting underhanded, in the truest meaning of the word. You don’t have the palms of your hands under the basketball while shooting. Your hands are palms-down, on each side of the ball. And the shot is executed by putting a reverse-spin on the ball while you’re letting it go towards the rim.

    With very little practice I started making one after another, no problems whatsoever. And if I could do it, anyone with NBA talent could certainly do it. Embarrassed because it looks “feminine”? Please! No, what’s REALLY embarrassing is shooting free throw airballs, or barely touching the front rim, over and over and over again. Biedrins, just DO IT!


    Here’s some news on Barnes signing with the Lakers. This should be a great fit for both player and team.


    “Barnes roulette wheel ends on Lakers”

    The Los Angeles Lakers won the battle for one of the last fussed-over free agents on Thursday, agreeing to terms with Orlando Magic free agent forward Matt Barnes on a two-year, $3.6 million deal. Barnes turned down more money from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had offered a multi-year deal worth more than $3 million annually. The Celtics and Heat also had pursued Barnes, who finally found a team after a proposed sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors fell apart earlier in the week.

    Barnes averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in his one season in Orlando. (The Lakers will be Barnes’s eighth NBA team.) But both Miami and Boston could only offer the veteran’s minimum of $1.146 mllion for Barnes; the Heat used its remaining cap room to sign forward Mike Miller, and the Celtics used their mid-level exception on Jermaine O’Neal.

    Meanwhile, the Lakers had about $1.8 million remaining after signing guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16 million free agent deal. Blake replaced Jordan Farmar, who took a three-year deal in New Jersey. Barnes will likely back up Ron Artest next season, though league sources say Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wants less drama next season and could be looking to quiet things down in the locker room after Los Angeles’ ride to a second straight championship.

    Barnes drew attention with his confrontation with Kobe Bryant in a game last March and his subsequent accusation that Bryant threw numerous elbows without punishment and that he would not back down from challenging Bryant in the future. That assertion may have impressed Bryant — who, a source says, pressed hard for the Lakers to get Barnes just as he had pushed them to sign former nemesis Raja Bell. Bell opted to return to the Utah Jazz with a three-year, $10 million deal earlier this month.

    Barnes announced on his Twitter page Monday that he was going to the Raptors, and league sources said it was a two-year, $9 million deal. But either the league shot down the proposed mechanism for making the sign-and-trade work, the Magic or Raptors didn’t interpret a cap rule correctly or Barnes simply jumped the gun. Whatever the reason, the deal fell apart Tuesday and Barnes was left with no place to make the money he supposedly was getting in Toronto, with his agent unable to find a suitable landing place.

    All Orlando could offer Barnes, even to facilitate a sign-and-trade, was $1.92 million next year, due to his “non-Bird” status; he had only played one season with the Magic.

  32. Does Biedrins ever read “Feltbot’s Warriors Blog”? Here you go, AB.

  33. Rick Reilly did a great last-page article in Sports Illustrated a few years ago about having Rick Barry teach him to free throw. As I recall it, Reilly was hitting them even with his eyes closed after a short while.

    To me it’s almost criminal and certainly unprofessional when guys like Shaq, Biedrins and the other FT inepts prefer risking victory and playing time by remaining incompetent at the line rather than at least TRYING a technique used very effectively by one of the greatest of all time.

    “I just want to win championships.” Do you actually? Or is not appearing ‘uncool’ and still taking home 9 mill good enough for you?

  34. No, this is how you shoot a free throw, from the dad we all wish we had (repost). Listen especially to what Dell says about the importance of free throws in the NBA:

  35. Rick Barry is ranked 3rd all-time free throwing, behind only Mark Price and Steve Nash. If he worked with Biedrins for a month I’d be willing to bet the results would be more than substantial. The problem is Biedrins doesn’t want to be the only player in the league shooting “underhand” (“Ha ha, look at him, he’s shooting like a girl”).

    Bottom line: As a Warriors fan, I could care less if he shoots with his feet, as long as becomes semi-competent from the line. One things for sure, a repeat of last year’s debacle is totally unacceptable.


    Here’s a couple of Steph Curry links.;_ylt=AtDg5YyIJ7UIyhvWmBgihG05nYcB?slug=mc-currywarriors072210

  36. Hmmm, I wonder where Robert Rowell was early Wednesday morning? (JK);_ylt=ApFgD6RaHTlDhrzIXN3N34w5nYcB?slug=ap-homeinvasion-jackson

  37. Nice analysis Felty. I am extremely excited about this trade and believe much of Lee’s deficiencies (as well as Biedrins’) will disappear when playing with a legit center. When was the last time Biedrins played with a legit PF? Exactly.

    The Warriors are one starter away from having a legit starting five and Wright may be primed for that roll. We will have to see how his game progresses. Add the fact that we have a lot of expiring contracts this upcoming season and you have a lot to be excited about.

    Thanks for giving fans a place to actually be happy about the status of our Warriors without being ridiculed.

  38. While Curry has been disappointed to see some of his close friends leave, he wants to win and thinks the Warriors are now in a better position to do so. The main reason has been the acquisition of Lee, who averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds last season for the New York Knicks.

    “He thought we could play together and jell, especially with Monta,” Curry said. “It gives a two-headed point guard combo to go with David Lee. We’re going to play pick-and-roll all day.”;_ylt=AuyZ9lU0b0QmgKzWrMe0UQW8vLYF?slug=mc-currywarriors072210

  39. Looks like Curry is going to make Team USA.

    Anyone here surprised if he does?

  40. Felt, nothing that Curry does or accomplishes surprises me. And I’m talking both on AND off the court.

    Just thinking about watching this kid play (hopefully) his entire career for the Warriors is a thought almost too good to be true. And since I feel he’s already close to being the best PG in the NBA after only his rookie season, I would be more surprised to see him miss making Team USA.

  41. How long will it take the Warriors to reach contention in the Western Conference? That’s a question with multiple answers, one of which is determining the overall strength of the other teams the Warriors will be battling. Is the West still best?

  42. Does anyone know when the schedule’s gonna be released? I’m dying to start circling some dates! First game is probably about 90 days away, right?

  43. Anthony Randolph interview:

    For those of you who don’t think Nellie still has his hand in on the personnel side, check out Randolph’s second answer.

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