Stephen Curry, David Lee, and the Warriors' Path to NBA Relevance

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Stephen Curry, David Lee, and the Warriors' Path to NBA Relevance
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

If the goal of the Golden State Warriors was to convince fans they were serious about being factors in next season's Western Conference race, then trading for David Lee was a good place to start.

The Warriors sent Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and Kelenna Azubuike to New York in exchange for Lee, who could provide instant help for Golden State's struggling interior.

Lee brings his 20.2 points per game and 11.7 rebounds to the Bay Area to team with Rookie of the Year runner-up Stephen Curry, in what should give the Warriors one of the better post-perimeter combos in the west.

More importantly, the Warriors were able to retain the services of shooting guard Monta Ellis, which could work out whether Golden State decides to add other players, or keep the SG in the fold.

Brandan Wright's strong play in summer league, the drafting of Ekpe Udoh, and a fully healthy Andris Biedrins coupled with the trade for Lee could turn the Warriors' interior weakness into next season's strength.

With Curry at the helm and Lee in the post, prospects are bright for the Warriors next season, but there are still a few issues which need to be addressed before the team makes any postseason plans.

The most obvious is the issue of ownership, and until the reins are relinquished from Chris Cohan, Bay Area fans will find it hard to trust anything the Warriors say and do.

There has been too many errors made on the part of management and until Cohan and Larry Riley vacate the premises, the Warriors and their fan base are trapped in a holding pattern.

Acquiring Lee was a great move to bolster the strength of the Warriors' interior, but it really doesn't address the most glaring issue from Golden State this past season, and in fact, it actually adds to it.

Lee posted very good offensive numbers with the Knicks, despite a limited offensive game, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired, and the same can be said for the Warriors.

Both the Knicks and the Warriors treat the thought of solid defense as a nuisance, so Lee is coming from one defenseless environment to another.

If the Warriors hope to compete next season, this will have to change.

A major part of the Warriors' defensive issues centered around the inability to secure rebounds, and Lee will help in that area, but an effort needs to be made at getting stops too.

The Warriors were near the top of the NBA in steals last season, but that statistic is a mirage since most of those steals occurred because of the frenetic tempo Donn Nelson prefers.

When the Warriors were forced to play in a half-court set they had a difficult time of preventing penetration, and most of the perimeter players were prone to getting beat off the dribble.

The help defense was nonexistent, and most Warriors contests devolved into layup drills for opponents.

In order to keep history from repeating itself, a change in the culture of the team is needed.

Good defensive teams are not made overnight, and the Warriors must show the desire to improve in this category collectively.

Every member of the roster has to make a commitment to improve their individual defense, and until this is done, the Warriors will remain one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA.

Golden State has seen some of the pieces fall in place on their road back to NBA relevance, and even though there are still issues to be resolved, at least the clearing at the end of the path is finally visible.


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