Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee has been the subject of trade suggestions and shaky rumors for the majority of the summer. After the success that the Warriors had with Lee injured in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, many people believe that the Warriors going with Harrison Barnes at the four and playing small-ball gives them the best shot at success.
However, it’s silly to deny the production of Lee, particularly last season. In 79 games he averaged 18.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 36.8 minutes per game while shooting 51.9 percent from the field. He finished the year being worth 9.1 win shares, the second highest total for a season in his career.
There’s no questioning Lee’s value as an offensive player. He’s a solid low-post scorer who stays active off of the ball and has underrated interior passing skills as well. Defensively he garners a lot of criticism and deservedly so; his defensive ability is sub-part, to put it kindly. Moreover, Lee has a tendency to come up with empty rebounds, meaning boards that don’t exactly start anything positive for Golden State.
So as the Warriors head into this season, they do face a bit of a quandary. With the addition of Andre Iguodala, Barnes is likely going to be coming off of the bench this season, meaning they are going to be looking to find him minutes in any way they can. While Barnes played mostly on the wing last season, the better option may be to use him as a backup to Lee this season.
Barnes backing up Lee would get Barnes on the floor which could help the team take another step forward, but it would also see if they actually have the flexibility to potentially trade Lee at the deadline or further down the road.