David Lee talked for almost 10 minutes after practice. His shirt was sweaty from whatever workouts he took part in, but there’s still no timetable for his return to game action. Here’s what we know:
- The hamstring injury he suffered against the Spurs on March 22 led to nerve irritation in the hamstring.
- The team did an MRI on his back that came back negative, so it’s not a disc issue.
- While Lee’s condition isn’t getting worse, he still doesn’t have the explosion necessary to help the Warriors.
It sounds like Lee won’t be back until the playoffs, but he’s liable to come back at any time. So after several health-related questions, I decided to switch things up with a question about Lee’s value to the team when healthy.
“You’ve been one of the leaders on this team for quite some time,” I started.
“But there’s some questions as to whether the team might be better with you out,” I continued.
“Hmm,” said Lee.
“Or not in the starting lineup. Do you have any reactions to those at all, or even pay attention to those questions?”
“No, I don’t pay attention to what Tim Kawakami writes. By this point, you ought to know that it’s rather biased. I’m not taking shots at him, but I think he just took Harrison’s name out of the article and inserted Draymond’s this year.
“I think I’ve been a guy that’s worked my butt off for this team, been a leader on and off the court. A huge stat they say is plus/minus. I think I’m ninth in the league in that right now. So if I’m hurting the team, I don’t see it. There’s a lot of things I can get better at, and I’m going to keep doing that. And I think I can help this team do a lot of things in the playoffs coming up if I get healthy,” Lee said.
Kawakami isn’t the only writer to question whether the Warriors might actually be stronger without Lee, but his recent article titled “Draymond Green as the Warriors’ most important power forward? In some ways, it’s already probably happening” is almost certainly what Lee was referring to.
In that story, Kawakami referenced how Andrew Bogut called the team’s starting lineup on Sunday — which featured a frontline of Bogut, Green and Andre Iguodala — “our killer lineup.” After Lee and Mark Jackson spoke to the media today, Bogut gushed about Green’s game and compared him to a former teammate of his, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
“Obviously Draymond is much more perimeter-oriented than D-Lee is, and can shoot the three-ball. So there’s a bit more spacing out there, probably. Draymond defensively can guard four positions, so that takes a lot of pressure off our defense to have Draymond switch with guys like Andre and so on. When they run pick-and-rolls, we can just switch them, which helps out our defensive rotations.
“I played with one of the best, in my opinion, Mbah a Moute. I think he’s one of the best defenders in the league. Draymond reminds me a lot of Luc when Luc was younger. He hustles. They say they both can’t shoot the ball well, but they still knock down big shots when you need them. Their rebound rate is phenomenal, and they play good D.”
After the Mbah a Moute comparisons, I asked Bogut what advantages Lee brings.
“He’s a scoring post presence for us. That’s what we’re missing right now. Obviously he’s one of the best guys at slashing to the rim and finishing with 10 feet or closer. We definitely miss that a little bit, and we’ll welcome that back when we can.”
Then Bogut was asked once again what it’s like to play with the “killer lineup.”
“It’s great. Our defense is really moving and clicking. People say our scoring will struggle with that lineup, last night they didn’t. It’s definitely a lineup I like playing with consistently,” said Bogut, who then remarked on the Warriors’ point total against Utah (130).
“Season high, yeah. Albeit against a team that is somewhat tanking. But yeah, it’s very, very interesting.”
Very interesting, indeed.