Wins important to Lee, not individual stats
LOS ANGELES -- It may sound odd, a player who signed an $80 million contract -- making him the highest-paid player on the team -- moving down the totem pole on offense. But that's what's happened to forward David Lee.
"It's been a little bit of an adjustment, but I much prefer it," said Lee, who played for the New York Knicks last season. "At the end of the day, you want to win. I mean, me being the first option with no other scorers out there, that accounted for 29 wins last year. I'd like to have a lot more than that this year."
Lee entered Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers having scored at least 20 points in three straight games. That's a first this season.
But Lee's scoring spurt is not just attributable to three straight games of home cooking against the Warriors' inferior opponents. His role in the offense is increasing.
Since Lee's jump shot has finally started coming around, which he said was because his left elbow has healed, coach Keith Smart has been able to open up the offense. The Warriors now run the pick-and-pop with Lee and either guard Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry. (Lee and Ellis, though, have become the go-to tandem because Ellis' speed off the pick and roll usually leads to a good look for Lee.)
Smart also now gets Lee the ball in the high post and in position to face-up and take his man.
What's more, the fact that opposing defenses now have to honor Lee's jumper opens up other options for the Warriors offense. And Lee, with the comfort of a healthy elbow, is no longer the passive big man on offense. He's looking for his shot, attacking his defender and demanding the ball in the post. Lee, during the recent five-game home stand, averaged 20 points on 58.6 percent shooting. He also put up 4.4 assists during the span, as the attention he draws sets up an open man -- often swingman Dorell Wright -- with an extra pass.
"I've just been focusing on being more aggressive," Lee said. "Now that I'm healthy, and I'm feeling good out there. I think it benefits everybody when I'm more aggressive, especially to start the game because as I'm being successful and teams are forced to react to that, then its going to open up our guards more."
-- MARCUS THOMPSON II