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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Following a personally frustrating, yet championship season in Golden State, Lee was traded to the Celtics and hopes to rejuvenate his career. Excluding his rookie season, Lee had career-lows in points (7.9), rebounds (5.2), and steals (0.6) per game last season, as well as in his free throw shooting (65 percent). Due to hamstring issues and Draymond Green's emergence, Lee played in only 49 games, starting only four. Lee is entering his age-32 season with something to prove. In the five seasons before last year, Lee averaged almost 19 points and 10 boards. While a return to those stats is probably unrealistic, Lee is an offensive improvement over fellow Celtic bigs Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger. But Lee's defense has always been in question. Lee struggles to provide help-side defense and rim protection, as demonstrated by his modest 0.4 blocks per game career average. Expect coach Brad Stevens to experiment from now to the trade deadline with different frontcourt lineups of Lee, Olynyk, Sullinger, Tyler Zeller, and the newly-acquired Amir Johnson. Lee is an excellent bounce-back candidate for 2015-16, his 11th year in the Association.
Lee suffered through several nagging injuries and was limited to 67 games last season, the first time in seven seasons he's missed double-digit games. He's been healthy throughout his career, averaging 37 minutes per game the previous four seasons, but last year's injury-pocked season comes after he suffered a hip injury just before the 2013 playoffs. Entering his age-31 season, it's reasonable to question Lee's health. What we can't question is his effort or his production. The former Florida Gator averaged 18.2 points on 52-percent shooting with 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.4 blocks in 33 minutes per game last season. He's had better rebounding seasons, but the presence of a healthy Andrew Bogut frees up Lee to impact games in other ways. Such as scoring. Lee can score a variety of ways inside and has a pick-and-pop jumper. He gets ridiculed for his defensive inadequacies, but that doesn't stop the Warriors from trotting him out every night. The team wants to keep him to a sustainable 32-34 minutes per night, as was the case last season, but the they don't have a quality backup. Marreese Speights was supposed to be that last year, but he showed up in poor condition and never earned the coach's confidence. New head coach Steve Kerr will try out Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes in certain small lineup combinations, but most of the power forward minutes belong to Lee.
Lee had a strong regular season in 2012-13 before being sidelined with a hip injury early in the playoffs. Lee posted averages of 18.5 points (52 percent from the field, 80 percent from the line), 11.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 37 minutes per game. While he does not provide the blocks that traditional power forwards do, his ability to produce assists makes up for it. Lee has always put up good percentages, with career averages of 54 percent from the field and 78 percent from the line. If he can fully recover from his hip surgery, he will still be a valuable fantasy asset this coming season. His touches on the offensive end are likely to take a dip, however, with new addition Andre Iguodala at the wing and with the further emergence of Harrison Barnes. Lee will have to continue to produce in other categories such as rebounds and assists in order to make up for the possible decrease in offensive opportunities with all the firepower at the Warriors' disposal.
Lee narrowly missed averaging a double-double in 2011-12, posting 20.1 points on 50.3 percent shooting with 9.6 rebounds per game. At 29, Lee’s motor showed no sign of stopping. Golden State was bereft of quality big men that could impact games, so coach Mark Jackson relied heavily on the Florida grad. He averaged over 37 minutes a game last season and has averaged 36.8 over the past three seasons. Though perhaps the burden is starting to show; Lee’s season ended early because of torn abdominal and adductor muscles, which required surgery. He was cleared for full-contact work back in July and is expected to be ready when camp opens up. The upcoming season, Lee will be getting some help. Andrew Bogut will start at center and Carl Landry was signed as a backup in the frontcourt. A little less playing time will help keep Lee fresh and available for the long haul. Lee’s never been a shot blocker, but he’s managed to average 1.0 steals per game over his career, so he can bring something to the defense categories. With more scoring options on the floor--Bogut, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson--Golden State won’t need Lee hoisting a career-high 16.2 shots per game, as he averaged last season, though he will remain a nightly double-double threat.
Switching from the high-octane Knicks to the run-and-gun Warriors figured to be a seamless transition for Lee, but it took the 28-year-old some time to look fully comfortable with his new squad. Despite a slower than expected start, Lee still managed to finish with averages of 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.0 steals. He was once again one of the better double-double options in the league, finishing tied for seventh with 37. His shooting dropped below 54 percent for the first time in his career, but Lee still managed to chime in with a solid 50.7 percent success rate. Lee also thrived at the free throw line, hitting 78.7 percent of his attempts. As in years past, blocks remained vacant from Lee’s production. As an undersized (6-9, 250) and not overly athletic big man, Lee will never be much of a contributor on the defensive side of the ball. The Warriors will continue to run their offense through Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, but Lee will be the primary option in the post and be asked shoulder the load on the glass. Look for another year full of double-doubles from Lee as he enters his seventh season.
Lee was a monster in fantasy leagues last season, averaging 20.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 81.2 percent from the line. He doesn't offer much shot blocking, but Lee's 53 doubles-doubles were the fourth most in the NBA. Lee inked a six-year, $80 million contract with the Warriors, who completed a sign-and-trade with the Knicks over the offseason. Golden State must think highly of him, as they not only doled out $80 million but also gave up promising young big man Anthony Randolph in the deal. Lee played in an ideal system under Mike D'Antoni in New York over the past few years, but if there was one situation as uptempo as the Knicks, it's the Warriors, so a steep decline in production would surprise us. While matching last year's gaudy stats would be hard to do, Lee remains in a system that fits his skills, and the Warriors are going to give him all the run he can handle. Expect Lee to continue to rack up the double-doubles in 2010-11. Lee suffered a finger injury that prevented him from playing for Team USA at the world championships and was expected to sideline him 6-to-8 weeks, but the injury didn't require surgery, and he's expected to enter the year fully healthy.
Lee was one of the NBA’s most prolific rebounders in his first season under head coach Mike D’Antoni. He led the league in double-doubles (65), ranked second in total rebounds (951) and was third in the league in per-game average (11.7), falling behind only Dwight Howard (13.8) and Troy Murphy (11.8). A restricted free agent at press time, Lee should maintain similar production to last year’s totals so long as he remains with the Knicks. Lee’s athleticism makes him a perfect fit for D’Antoni’s system as his job is primarily to attack the basket for offensive rebounds and put-backs. Lee’s one downfall as a center is his lack of blocks. He averaged 0.3 bpg last season, less than Charlotte’s pint-sized point guard, Raymond Felton (0.4 bpg). Pick and roll plays are Lee’s bread and butter. He lacks a perimeter game and hasn’t been asked to develop one. His role is clearly defined, a primary reason why he ranked 11th in efficiency last season, making him one of the most reliable and consistent players to own at fantasy’s most shallow position. Just keep in mind that a departure from D’Antoni’s system would depress Lee’s production back to previous levels.
It will be feast or famine with David Lee this season. In some respects, he seems like an ideal fit for Mike D’Antoni’s hurry-up offense, with the ability to generate rebounds, run the floor, finish on the break or score on put-backs. On the other hand, D’Antoni likes big men who can shoot, and Lee’s range – to be charitable – extends to about five feet. If he wins a spot in the starting lineup, or even a key bench role, Lee will be a near-automatic double-double, and at press time, things are looking pretty good, with general manager Donnie Walsh reportedly pushing to deal Zach Randolph. But he’s also one of the most marketable Knicks, so don’t be surprised to see his name in dozens of trade rumors.
Lee hustled and rebounded his way into a prominent role with the Knicks last year and wound up as one of just seven NBA players to average a double-double (10.7 points, 10.4 rebounds). He also shot 60 percent from the field and 81.5 from the line, great percentages, though he didn’t take many shots. Nonetheless, Lee was never able to get into the starting lineup on a consistent basis despite averaging 12.7 points, 11.7 boards and 64 percent shooting in 12 games as a starter. Lee’s potential for this season was also likely hurt by the team’s acquisition of fellow power forward Zach Randolph this summer. Still, given Lee’s work ethic and the numbers he put up as a sixth man last season, we expect him to play a significant role again with the Knicks.
Lee is an athletic forward with good size (6’10”, 240) and an excellent motor. His prospects for a long, solid NBA career are excellent, but on a team already overloaded with big forwards, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be a significant contributor as a rookie.
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