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First, the obvious: David Lee is averaging 19.2 PPG and 11.5 RPG. Add both numbers together, and there isn't a frontcourt player in the NBA with as high a total.
Lee is as consistent as he is good. His 14 double-doubles are third most in the NBA. The only scorer above him with a better field goal percentage is LeBron James, and the only players in the NBA with a better efficiency rating are James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Anderson Varejao and Tim Duncan.
Ok, but everyone knew Lee could do this, right? Doesn't this only mean he's finally living up to his five-year, $80 million contract? Isn't he still a major liability on defense and just a stat sheet-stuffer on a bad team?
No, no, no and no. Mark Jackson has Lee playing a level of defense he never has before, where he's not a stopper but no longer a matador either. Lee isn't just putting up points because no one else can—he has to compete with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for shots, along with Carl Landry for minutes. Plus, he finishes in more ways, from more spots and with more hands, than just about anyone.
Sure, Lee's stat sheet is certainly stuffed, but the Warriors are winning because of it. His rebounding ferocity has made Golden State a premier rebounding team in the NBA. His passing skills have been instrumental to a smooth Warriors offensive attack, and his ability to score through double-teams and get to the line has made him a go-to-guy in every big moment.
His mental toughness, relentless battling attitude and veteran leadership—along with his absurdly productive game—is probably the biggest reason why the Andrew Bogut-less Warriors find themselves at 15-8 and in the thick of the Pacific Division race.
Lee isn't just earning his money, he's looking like one of the league's more expensive bargains .