Flying Under the Radar: David Lee
(John Raoux/AP)
(John Raoux/AP)
MagicIllustrated.com
Posted Mar 1, 2008


David Lee has given the Knicks the most bang for their buck.

The New York Knicks’ team salary stands at $88 million, the second highest in the NBA. With an 18-39 record, one can make an argument that the Knicks are the worst managed team currently in the NBA, and one of the worst in the history of sports, as they have the second highest team salary and fourth worst record. That ratio means they’ve been poor spenders and despite one bad acquisition after another, the Knicks have been able to get some bang for their buck through the NBA Draft, with the best example of that being power forward David Lee.

The 24-year-old forward was drafted 30th overall by the Knicks in 2005, and after a solid sophomore performance last year, Lee has proven this season that he is one of the better young players in the game.

At 6’9, 240lbs, Lee is a little undersized, but he has gotten by on a nice combination of effort and athleticism. He is averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds per game for the Knicks this season, and averaged 10 and 10 last year. While Lee has started just eight games so far this year, he has proven to be one of the best bench players in the game and could likely start for a majority of NBA teams.

Lee doesn’t dominate at any one aspect of the game, but he does everything well and is successful because he has a high motor and always tries to be involved in the play. On offense, Lee loves running the floor and looking for fast break opportunities, which is rare for someone of his stature. He doesn’t have the most polished post game, but he has a fairly soft touch around the basket. He also is a fairly capable shooter from outside the paint and can make an open jump-shot. On defense, Lee is a bit of a ‘tweener, as he can get posted up by taller opponents, but has a hard time staying with quicker guys. Again, he offsets his mismatch by hustling and trying to create turnovers. He averages close to a steal a game and forces opponents to work hard if they are going to beat him.

Lee also possesses solid athleticism, as he has been known the rock the rim at times. Lee also is a presence on the glass because of said athleticism, and he averages more than two offensive rebounds per game.

With a salary of less than $2 million, Lee is proving to be one of the few bargains on New York’s roster. Lee will have a difficult time this Saturday as the Knicks will face Orlando. Lee doesn’t match up well against the Magic. He likely is too small to handle the rigors of guarding Dwight Howard, and must guard quick forwards like Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. Even if he is assigned to guard PF Brian Cook, he will be forced to stay on the perimeter, which isn’t his strong suit. Despite a subpar season for the Knicks, Lee has been a bright spot for New York and while he will eventually get paid when his contract expires after next season, the Knicks are currently enjoying the impressive play of Lee at an affordable price.



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