Golden State’s 2012-13 season starts tomorrow night in Phoenix, an occasion that led Sports Illustrated to poll an unidentified NBA scout for his unexpurgated thoughts concerning the Warriors roster. To say he’s taking Mark Jackson’s squad lightly would be an understatement ; Andrew Bogut is “nothing special”. Stephen Curry is compared to Grant Hill (ie. the Grant Hill that was frequently injured) and Richard Jefferson is “paid way too much money and he thinks he’s better than he is.” And thru all of that, it’s former Knicks F/C David Lee — “a great guy, but talk about overrated” — who receives the harshest criticism.
Lee is looking for his own numbers big-time. I’m guessing he leads the league in rebounds off missed free throws. He has turned himself into a 20-and-10 guy — an accomplishment, for sure. But he’s never been a guy who is constantly helping on defense. The story you hear from the Knicks is that his teammates used to call him FEMA, because he’s never there when you need him. Lee is always there when he can take a charge, but when you’re getting beat around the basket after contesting a shot because you’re trying to make a play, he’s not coming over to cover for you. He takes charges and pumps his fist, but when you really watch him you see the things he doesn’t do.
Lee has a lot going for him, though. He has a reputation for being a gym rat and he does a lot of things well. But what you need from him first and foremost is to be a defender, and he’s just not that guy. You can’t put up those kinds of numbers without being a hell of an NBA player, but I don’t think you can win with him. Maybe if he were playing for somebody who had juice, like one of the Van Gundy brothers or Gregg Popovich or Tom Thibodeau, then you could get the best out of him. If he played for a coach who cared about the defensive end and would put him on the bench, then maybe Lee could have an unbelievable career. But Mike D’Antoni didn’t emphasize the defensive assignments, and Mark Jackson doesn’t care about them, either.