Sick of arguing with your friends about who is the best player in the NBA? Leading into the ’13-14 NBA Season, Ball So Hard will be putting an end to the debate. Here is the decisive list of the 50 best NBA players.
Note: predictions are for the up coming season and rank players on how they will perform in the ’13-14 season.
No. 34, David Lee
Last season, the Golden State Warriors were one the most exciting teams in the NBA. Their fast-paced offensive barrage of three-pointers and transition hoops proving to be a favourite among NBA fans.
While much of the focus during the year surrounded star point guard Stephen Curry’s breakout year, it was Lee who was the Warriors sole representative at the All-Star game, his second.
While many fans believe Curry was snubbed for his first All-Star selection, that should not take away from the excellent year his teammate had. Heading into the All-Star break, Lee was the only player in the L averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Sharpshooters Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as high-flying rookie Harrison Barnes, may have provided the majority of the highlight plays in the free-flowing Warriors’ offence, but Lee provided the invaluable veteran leadership and consistency needed to win games.
At the conclusion of the season, Lee ranked 15th in the league for points per game (18.5) and fifth for rebounds per (11.2).
His ability to finish at the basket (68.1% at the rim), exploiting his array of silky spin moves and soft hook shots, perfectly complimented the outside shooting of Golden State’s abundance of long-range marksmen. Over the years, Lee has also developed a reliable midrange jumper, hitting 41.6% of his attempts between 10 and 16 feet, which is particularly deadly from the left block and elbow.
Lee is also an above average rebounder, and his ability to complete defensive stops and earn second chance buckets was invaluable to an often undersized and undermanned Warriors’ frontcourt.
Lee’s play was a significant part of the Warriors rising up the standings. In 2011-12, Golden State finished a disappointing 13th in the West with a 23-43 record. However, in the 2012-13 season, they improved their record to 47-35, clinching the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
Come the postseason, the Warriors were not simply making up the numbers, eliminating the higher-seeded Denver Nuggets in six games before eventually being eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semi-Finals.
Unfortunately, Lee struggled with a hip injury during his first foray into the NBA postseason and was restricted to 10 minutes per game over six games.
However, his teammates success should prove to be priceless motivation for the Lee and Warriors as they strive to continue to improve next season. With the addition of swingman Andre Iguodala in the offseason and their division rivals – Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings – expected to struggle, it would not be a surprise to see the Warriors improve on their sixth seed finish from last season.
David Lee might not the be the record breaking or highlight producing type of player several of his teammates are, but his play next season will have a huge influence on whether the Warriors can continue their improving ways.