The second phase of David Lee's NBA career starts next Wednesday night when the Golden State Warriors take on the Houston Rockets.
While Lee had individual success with the New York Knicks, the team results were never positive. During his five seasons in the Big Apple the Knicks record was a putrid 140-270 (.341 Winning %) and they never won more than 33 games. You can't blame Lee for looking forward to a chance to start over.
"Very exciting, great opportunity, we have a good squad of guys everyone gets along real well," said Lee when asked about going from the Knicks to the Warriors. "Got a lot of weapons, it's going to be interesting to see how we do and we have a chance to have a special season."
I understand why Lee's excitement level is high, but to say the Warriors are going to have a "special season" is overdoing it a bit.
Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are the most talented players Lee has been surrounded by in his career.
Both guards have an innate ability to put the ball in the basket and Lee's presence on the court will make the game easier for them.
"I always enjoy big guys who can step out on the floor and makes passes," said Warriors first year Head Coach Keith Smart. "He has done a good job making passes to guys who are cutting on the floor. When you have guards like we have and can get the ball out of their hands you can utilize the skill of a big that can pass. When they (Ellis/Curry) catch it they can use their speed so they are not dominating the ball."
Lee feels his passing ability (averaged 3.6 assists per game last season) and unselfishness has already rubbed off on his new teammates.
"I think that kind of thing is contagious," Lee said. "We have a lot of unselfish guys. Our guards are real unselfish, they have made the game easier for me and I am trying to do the same for them."
In last Wednesday night's preseason game against the Suns I saw a Golden State team moving the ball and hitting the open man.
People will look at the box score and say Monta Ellis took 28 shots; it is the same old Monta. If you analyze it closer the reason Ellis had so many shots was because he played 44 minutes. Stephenn Curry attempted 13 shots in 24 minutes. Curry actually had a higher shot per minute ratio than Ellis.
There were two plays in the game that symbolized a change in Monta's game:
1. On a fast break instead of forcing up a tough attempt at a lay up Ellis dropped the ball off to Dan Gadzuric for an easy dunk.
2. In a half court set Monta started to drive to the basket the defense collapsed on him and he kicked it out to Curry for a wide open three.
Golden State has a core of players in Curry, Ellis, and Lee who are going to be in Oakland for a long time.
Last season Ellis was known as a selfish player who was all about himself, Lee an unselfish player on a team where everyone was out for themselves, and Curry a young rookie learning about the NBA game.
As these three Warriors grow and develop together Ellis can lose the label of being out for himself, Lee may finally play for a winning team, and Curry has the opportunity to live up to the hype.
Maybe two-three years down the road as Golden State management continues to improve the surrounding pieces the Warriors can have the "special season" David Lee talked about.