Losing David Lee Hurts Warriors Only a Little

Sure, he's a key scorer and rebounder. But Carl Landry is a more than adequate replacement given their efficiency levels.

Our best regards to David Lee. May your post moves, defensive rebounding, and complete softness defending return in full form next season.

However, the Golden State Warriors will now roll over and die and hold no hope against the Nuggets forever and ever amen. That's what seems to be coming from everybody and their brother in the Bay Area, right? Considering Lee led the team in rebounds per game and was second in points per game, it seems to be a narrative that fits fairly well.

Too bad that it's not entirely correct. The Warriors didn't exactly have the best chance to begin with; we've covered this already. But losing David Lee won't hurt their chances any worse, because plugging Carl Landry into the starting lineup doesn't lower Golden State's efficiency as much as you'd think.

The Odds

Even if Lee received a Dr. Krieger-esque back replacement, the Warriors would only hold a 16.6 percent chance of coming back to take the series. Yes, the Nuggets are that much better, even after only one game played.

With David Lee

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Golden State0.00%1.80%7.40%7.38%16.56%

Without Lee, though, the Warriors will likely move Landry to the starting lineup and possibly give the Warriors' smaller lineups a bit more time on the court. However, that might not necessarily be a bad thing. As you can see by our oddsmakers, the Warriors' chance of winning the series would only drop by less than three percent with Landry moving into the starting lineup.

Without David Lee

4 Games5 Games6 Games7 GamesTotal Win Odds
Golden State0.00%1.79%5.58%6.32%13.70%

Landry's efficiency ratings are more variable than Lee's because of his low playing time so far this season; it isn't as assured that he'll play at his current level because there is less data off of which to base that assumption. Because of this, the chances of Denver sweeping the Warriors are actually slightly less without Lee: for all we know, Landry's true ability could actually be way above his regular season levels, and we just wouldn't know because of his lack of playing time.

As a whole, though, the Warriors' odds would be slightly lower across the board. Lee could have very well been the piece that led the Warriors to victory, but there are only slightly lower odds that Landry could be that exact same piece.

Inside the Numbers

People love David Lee because they love his offense. The two go hand-in-hand. 18.5 points per game from a power forward in such a quick-running, high-octane offense is a rare quality indeed. It's hard to find a guy who can post a .519 effective field goal percentage (eFG%) and 110 offensive rating in this offense like Lee does.

Except, you know, his backup. Landry has actually been even more efficient on the offensive end. His .540 eFG% trails only Stephen Curry on the Warriors and ranks No. 21 overall in the NBA. Landry's 116.3 offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) is first on the Warriors and No. 15 overall in the NBA, directly ahead of Tony Parker, James Harden, and Danilo Gallinari. I don't think the Warriors are going to see their offensive efficiency drop much.

Their defensive efficiency shouldn't be a huge problem, either. This season, David Lee finished with a 104 defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions), slightly better than the Warriors' 105.5 team average that ranked 14th in the NBA. Although Landry finished on the wrong side of that average with a 106 defensive rating, a two points per 100 possessions difference is not a monumental lapse in defense. It also doesn't hurt that, per, Lee has allowed opposing power forwards to score 21.2 points per 48 minutes against him this season. Landry has allowed only 18.9 points per 48 minutes, albeit on a higher eFG% (meaning teams like to attack Lee more than Landry).

It's really just the rebounding that remains the huge dropoff from Lee to Landry. But even that comes with some caveats. David Lee is one of the top defensive rebounders in the league, collecting 24.5 percent of available defensive boards (16th-best in the NBA). Landry, meanwhile, collects a serviceable but not extraordinary 17.3 percent of defensive boards. For a team who prides itself on defensive rebounding percentage with the top defensive rebound rate in the NBA, that's a blow that you can't glance over.

But that's only on the defensive end. Landry is actually slightly better in offensive rebounding, collecting 10.9 percent of available offensive rebounds as compared to Lee's 8.5 percent. That makes the total rebound discrepancy more manageable, with 16.8 percent of all available rebounds for Lee to 14.2 percent of available rebounds for Landry. It's not good to lose, but it's also not inherently series-losing in and of itself.

I know, losing the second-leading scorer and leading rebounder hurts. We're not going to argue that, if for nothing else the morale loss that it comes with. By the numbers, though, the loss isn't that bad. What little chance the Warriors had of taking this series will only drop by a tiny bit, and Carl Landry will serve as an adequate replacement.

You should keep feeling stressed, Warriors fans, but David Lee shouldn't be your main reason.