The Dallas Mavericks have been a good team to bet on regarding covering the spread, going 31-26 ATS so far. They might perform even better ATS now that they’ve added free-agent power forward David Lee. But what exactly will Lee’s impact be on the Mavericks, especially since he hasn’t played many meaningful minutes in the last two years?
The answer is that Lee could go from being an afterthought on the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors to playing a huge role off Dallas’ bench. This is a team that’s really lacking for backup big men, playing a combination of PF Dwight Powell (6.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG), PF Charlie Villanueva (5.7 PPG), C JaVale McGee (5.3 PPG, 0.83 BPG) and C Salah Mejri (3.6 PPG).
None of these guys are terrible rotation players, but none of them are the first guys you want coming off the bench to spell Dirk Nowitzki and Zaza Pachulia either. So enter Lee, who can come in and play either the power forward or center positions. And as he told Mavs.com, he’ll especially be looked to for rebounding.
“As far as minutes and stuff, you know, we’ll let coach figure that out,” said Lee. “But more than anything, they’ve been emphasizing rebounding the basketball and being ready to come in off the bench and play with energy.”
Rebounding is certainly a forte of Lee’s since he’s averaged 9.2 RPG for his career. He twice averaged 11.7 RPB for the New York Knicks in 2009 and ’10 and has grabbed double-digit rebounds in four out of his 11 seasons.
The past two seasons have seen Lee’s numbers take a dip, mainly due to him being a veteran who didn’t fit into the Celtics’ or Warriors’ long-term plans. In the 2014-15 season, he averaged 7.9 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 18.4 minutes, the latter of which continually declined as Golden State moved closer to a championship. This year with Boston, he was averaging 7.1 PPG and 4.3 RPG in just 15.7 minutes.
The likely scenario is that Lee will only play around 15 minutes per game with Dallas too. However, this isn’t a team that plays their backup big men much anyways. Powell plays the most out of the forwards/centers with just over 16 MPG. But the thing about Lee is that he can score better than the younger Powell and rebound just as good.
Plus, it’s important to remember that Lee is only two years removed from a season in which he put up 18.2 PPG and 9.3 RPG with Golden State. He’s also a very efficient player, hitting 53.1% from the field in his career.
If there’s one shortcoming of Lee, it’s the fact that his defense leaves something to be desired. Aside from being an aging veteran, this is another reason why Lee was passed by the likes of Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes in Golden State and Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk in Boston. But don’t expect defense to keep Lee on the bench for the Mavericks, who desperately need bigs.
He’ll mostly play power forward, however, he can also play center against smaller lineups. And with the league go smaller and smaller these days, this should definitely earn Lee some playing time.