Warriors: Damion Lee solidified himself as a quality role player

Warriors (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Warriors (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Despite a 15-50 overall record, Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee has emerged as one of the few brought spots this season and solidified his role next season.

Prior to the NBA’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee saw plenty of action on the court.

Despite the Warriors 15-50 overall record, there were still some bright spots including the production from Lee, who has established a future role with the team.

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Lee began his collegiate career at Drexel University but completed his senior season at the University of Louisville. The 6-foot-5 guard went undrafted out of college but caught on with the Atlanta Hawks in the 2017-2018 season.

Following that, Lee has appeared with the Warriors in each of the last two seasons on a pair of two-way contracts.

The Louisville product did not see much of the court last season, but he has carried a heavy workload this year due to the injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as well as the retirement of Shaun Livingston.

Livingston’s retirement may have unexpectedly created a void that Lee could potentially fill.

The Warriors need backcourt depth in the second unit. Obviously, when the roster is healthy, Curry and Thompson are the starting point guard and shooting guard, respectively.

Golden State needs someone who can reliably eat some minutes behind Curry and Thompson. For five years, Livingston filled that backup point guard role about as well as anyone.

Lee continues to show that he can move the ball in a similar way as Livingston did:

With the roster turnover, the Warriors are in a much different position and need to figure out who can fill roles on the second unit. Despite this being a gap year, it has also essentially become a tryout for next year’s team.

Few players on the Warriors roster have impressed as much as Lee. In 49 games, including 36 starts, the 27-year-old has posted 12.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 2.7 APG while shooting 42 percent from the field. This includes a 36 percent rate beyond the arc.

In addition to this, Lee has been worth 1.7 win shares. For comparison purposes, he is in the same neighborhood as guard Avery Bradley (1.6 win shares) and Robin Lopez (1.7 win shares).

Both Bradley and Lopez are important role players for playoff-caliber teams.

With that being said, there have been some growing pains with the shooting guard as well. Lee was criticized for a series of plays that lead to a 121-113 loss against the Toronto Raptors.

However, he has the respect of his teammates as both Curry and Eric Paschall came to his defense following that game.

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The question is, can Lee sustain this level of production as a bench player? Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was averaging over 10 shots per game.

He will not see that many looks on the second unit. However, if he can sustain a 36 percent rate from beyond the arc, he would give Golden State a potential and much-needed scoring threat off the bench.

His production has not gone unnoticed, either. Golden State converted his two-way contract into a partially guaranteed deal that runs until the 2021-2022 season.

The Warriors plan on having Lee on the roster next season. Due to the fact that the team will likely exceed the luxury tax next year, the Warriors need players on the margin like Lee to become positive contributors.

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His play this season has given them the confidence that he can be a role player. Regardless of how the rest of the season transpires, if the NBA even decides to restart, it is likely that Lee has solidified his role with the team for next season.