I'll begin by saying yes, David Lee had to endure one of the more disgusting injuries in recent memory. Having a tooth lodged into your shooting elbow and having a hole in it for three weeks cannot be fun. By all accounts, though, he is healthy now, and his conditioning is back near game level.
The Warriors are roughly halfway through the season, so it's safe to provide a rough evaluation of Lee's performance thus far with Golden State. After watching him play, Lee has proven to be nothing more than just a good player on a mediocre team. He is not the dynamic free agent who was supposed to change the makeup of the Warriors, and he is definitely not the power forward Warrior fans have craved since Chris Webber's departure ages ago.
Don't get me wrong, I like Lee's game, and I believe he's a great complementary player. He hustles on the floor, and by all accounts is a good locker room guy and leader. However, the circumstances surrounding his acquisition and the max contract he signed this past offseason only lead me to conclude that Lee has been a bust as a Warrior.
During the offseason, Warriors fans listened to general manager Larry Riley and new owner Joe Lacob talk about bringing in an All-Star caliber player to the Bay Area. True, Lee was an All-Star in the East, but if memory serves me correctly, wasn't it just as a replacement for Allen Iverson?
Yes, Lee had a remarkable 2009-10 season statistically speaking, as he finished with career highs of 20.2 points per game and 11.7 rebounds per contest. Does that mean, though, that the Warriors had to throw a max contract at him? The Warriors have been a terrible rebounding team for years, but they have also been a terrible defensive team.
Lee has long been criticized for his lack of ability on the defensive end, and with all the dominant power forwards in the West, what exactly were the Warriors expecting?
Now, with an important month-long stretch of games coming up, things couldn't have gotten off to a more disappointing start. After coming off a dominating performance against the Cavaliers at home, Golden State was promptly beaten to submission by the Clippers. Blake Griffin had 23 points and 12 rebounds, while DeAndre Jordan, who has a limited offensive skill set, scored nine points and recorded 13 rebounds.
David Lee? He had just eight points and four rebounds.
I would compare Lee to another former Warrior who was given a max contract not too long ago. Antawn Jamison was a nice player with the Warriors and definitely put up solid numbers, but was he worth his max money? Max players are supposed to make teams better and help bring losing teams out of the cellar back into contention. Kevin Garnett is a max player. So is Kevin Durant. David Lee is not.
While Lee is a nice glue guy and rotation player for the Warriors, he's just not a game changer. Until the Warriors do find that player, it will just lead to more frustration and heartache for the most dedicated fan base in the NBA.