When the Warriors acquired forward David Lee in the offseason, it was for a host of tangible reasons.
He was one of the few guys in the NBA who averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was an All-Star. He was the cure for the Warriors' rebounding woes, help for their inside scoring drought.
Now that his first season with Golden State is winding down, Lee's greatest impact has been the intangibles. Looking at the numbers, it would be easy to question if Lee has paid proper dividends. But when you consider the other things he brings to the table, that scale tips more toward invaluable.
"I think it's a total picture," general manager Larry Riley said. "He hasn't come up way short. There is a misconception about that. Using the baseball scenario, if he's supposed to be a .300 hitter "... he hit about .285 until we got into February, and he's been playing pretty well after that. There could have been a little more. But disappointed? Hell no."
Lee's once-sexy averages are down this season. His 16.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game are noticeably shy of the 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds he averaged last season with New York. His field goal percentage has dropped more than 4 percent to 50.2.
But Lee will be the first to admit his numbers last season were tainted by the Knicks' poor record and inflated by his primary role in the offense. And the current regime considers Lee a success because of the things not found on the stat sheet.
His leadership on the court and in the locker room, the way he lifts the play of his teammates and the example he sets with his work ethic. How his midrange jump shot spreads the floor and how his passing has promoted ball movement.
"In the last month or so," Lee said. "I've hit my stride and gotten used to playing alongside three really good scoring guards. The thing I want to continue to improve on is my defense. I've shown at times that I'm capable of doing a good job on big-time players. That's something you're going to need next year. "... I think that my defense has gotten better, but I've got a long way to go."
Certainly, any evaluation of Lee will be based in part on the six-year, $80 million contract he signed. That deal he inked, after the Warriors acquired him for Ronny Turiaf, Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike, made him the highest-paid Warrior (on yearly average).
The Warriors made the move for rebounding, yet the team ranks last in the league in rebounding disparity, being out-rebounded 4.35 per game.
They brought in Lee for his inside scoring, yet Golden State still is in search of a place to go in the paint when it needs a basket. By those measures, Lee may leave you wanting.
But coach Keith Smart said Lee's true value will be revealed down the line, when the team is fully assembled. He said Lee's skills shine brighter the better his teammates are around him.
Riley agreed. He said he needs to get Lee some help on the front line and continue to upgrade the talent, and Lee will benefit from being on a better team. And Riley believes Lee integral for the direction the Warriors are headed.
"If you take him off this team," Riley said, "where would our rebounding be? His shot started off funky, but he's gotten that back. I've always said he can pass the ball. He may throw one in the stands every now and then, but he is a good passer. And he can run with us."
Lee said this season stopped well short of being his best as a professional. But he has dealt with multiple obstacles. The elbow infection that cost him a handful of games and set him back for over a month. Switching back to power forward after playing center last season. Going from the centerpiece of the offense in New York to the third or fourth option with the Warriors.
He said it all made for a pretty trying season. Considering that, if you ask him, even his tangibles aren't anything to be shamed of.
"Those people who know basketball can appreciate what I bring every single night," Lee said. "I'm absolutely not a perfect player. There are things I need to improve on, and I'm going to continue to do that."