Resume: 20.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 37.2 minutes (9th in league), 50% FG, and 78% FT… Team record in games played: 22-35 (1-8 without)
The top 50 list is kicked off with Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee. As someone who has watched a lot of Golden State Warriors basketball over the last few years (you’ll understand why in two days), I can say I think that it may be getting to a point that David Lee is becoming a little underrated. Don’t forget that David Lee is a player who:
A: Is underrated within two specific areas of his game: His athleticism (or perceived lack thereof) and his passing. Because of the “White Men Can’t Jump” society most fans tend to live in, Lee is never looked at as someone who gets off the floor or soars above the rim. Lee is more athletic than most people give him credit for, and much more athletic than a comparable player in size like Zach Randolph. He runs the floor well and is rarely noticeably overmatched from an athletic standpoint.
Lee is one of the craftiest passing big men in the league, yet sometimes looked at as a bit of a black hole offensively. I blame that perception mainly on the teams he’s played for throughout his career. If you think Lee is a black hole, just consider the fact that he’s played with the likes of Jamal Crawford, Zach Randolph, Al Harrington, Nate Robinson, and Monta Ellis. Of course he shoots a lot… it’s every man for himself out there! Lee is an underrated passer. From the high post area and off of offensive rebounds Lee is just as dangerous with the ball in his hands as any other big man in the league.
C: Plays more minutes of any big man not named Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard or Kevin Love. Speaking of Kevin Love…
D: David Lee was Kevin Love, before Kevin Love. Well, let me rephrase that statement so it isn’t misconstrued. At no point in Lee’s career was he better than Kevin Love is right now. But Lee was the white-power-forward-double-double-machine before Kevin Love came along… only the poor man’s version. Still, even as the poor man’s version of Kevin Love, over the last three years Lee has managed to have a higher combined average of points and rebounds than Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, both Gasol brothers, Serge Ibaka, Zach Randolph, Al Horford, Roy Hibbert, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Tyson Chandler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Andrew Bynum. That’s a good portion of the power forwards and centers ahead of Lee on the list.
So you might ask why David Lee isn’t ranked higher. Well, much like my toughest cut Amare Stoudemire, Lee isn’t exactly locking anyone down. Still, this could be a part of the Warriors team style. “Lockdown defender” and “Golden State Warrior” don’t usually go in the same sentence. Lee’s offensive numbers could also be exaggerated a bit since Golden State plays an up and down style of offense, and because Lee is really the only interior scoring option and rebounder on a team with a lot of perimeter players in the rotation (After Lee, the next leading scorer of all interior players on Golden State last year was Kwame Brown. Kwame Brown?). That’s pretty awful. Lee has to be thanking his lucky stars the Warriors traded for Andrew Bogut. Plus, Kwame Brown is gone. Throw a parade already!
Maybe David Lee is just the poor man’s Kevin Love (or Kevin Love before Kevin Love, whichever way you care to see it). And maybe his numbers are inflated because of the team he plays for. But he has been one of the most consistent power forwards in the league over the last 5 years. He’s constantly being underrated in the large and small scheme of things. And his girlfriend… my god. That alone was enough to land him in the top 50. Way to go David!