By Gabe Schapiro
For the Golden State Warriors the lengthy preseason, which included a trip to China, is finally over. Tonight the regular season begins, and a visibly thinner and more in-shape David Lee is ready and rearing to go.
Lee, who was the lone Warrior All-Star last season, is known for his prowess on the offensive end of the floor. Beyond just getting in better shape, Lee has spent much of the offseason focusing on improving his defensive game. For Lee, the two goals are one in the same. “Not being in as good of shape last year, looking back on the film, sometimes I would take possessions off. With the amount of work they had me doing on offense, it might have been on the defensive end a little.”
Over the course of seven preseason game, Lee has already seen that work and focus starting to pay off. “My pick-and-roll defense has been much better and my help defense has been much better…The big thing for me is making extra-effort plays.” Giving a nod to fellow big-man and defensive force down-low, he added, “I’m not claiming to be Andrew Bogut, but defensively on the post I’ve been doing a lot better competing.”
With an eye towards being “one of the best power forwards in the league,” Lee went on that “if you’re looking at making improvements and making that next step…for me it’s got to start on that defensive end.”
Focusing in on tonight’s contest against the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State is taking on a team they have seen a lot of recently. They played them three times during the preseason, and were taking notes during the Lakers victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last night in their own regular season opener.
The Lakers surprised many, and overcame not having Kobe Bryant in the lineup thanks to an incredible 76 points from their bench and a strong shooting night from beyond the arc.
Lee and the Warriors aren’t taking LA lightly, with or without Bryant. “Anybody out there if you don’t give them their proper due they can hurt you…you gotta be ready no matter who they have on the floor.”
When asked what the keys to winning tonight’s contest were, Lee kept it simple. “We have to share the ball offensively…defensively we have to defend that three-point line, that’s an equalizer.”
Most of all, it has to be a team effort. “We have to come ready to play. Not just one-through-five but one-through-ten or however many of our guys get into the game.”