Why Warriors should bring back Damion Lee, give him real playing time

Grant Liffmann
NBC Sports BayArea
With a depleted roster next season, the Warriors should give Damion Lee a real shot to shine.
With a depleted roster next season, the Warriors should give Damion Lee a real shot to shine.

Why Warriors should bring back Damion Lee, give him real playing time originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
 
With free agency starting Sunday, June 30, the Warriors are about to enter one of the biggest crossroads in their franchise history.

Will they be able to retain injured stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson? Can they afford to bring back "foundational piece" Kevon Looney? Could DeMarcus Cousins re-sign on the cheap to take on a bigger role this season? These questions will all be answered soon.

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But in the meantime, the Warriors will have to do what they can to fill out a depleted roster.
 
Last week we highlighted under-the-radar unrestricted free agents that the Warriors could pursue. Some of them might be too expensive at this point for the Warriors to sign, others may be looking for longer contracts than the Warriors are able to offer.

But with the team desperately searching for floor-spacers and scorers to help Steph Curry and Draymond Green do their thing, one player that the Warriors should consider for a spot in next season's rotation comes from within, and that's former two-way player Damion Lee. 
 
While Lee might have originally caught the Bay Area's attention for being Curry's brother-in-law, it was his shooting and effort on the court that led to many clamoring for him to make the postseason roster. The 6-fot-6, 26-year-old guard out of Louisville had quite a busy season as a two-way player, appearing in 24 games with the Santa Cruz Warriors, 32 games with Golden State, and constantly shuttling back and forth in between.

While you'd think that the constant shuffle might lead to some fatigue on the court, Lee posted impressive numbers in both leagues. 

Lee averaged 20.3 points per game in the G League while shooting 39.8 percent from deep. In the NBA, Lee averaged 4.9 points over 11.7 minutes per game while making 39.7 percent of his 3-pointers. He also had some eye-opening games, scoring 20 points and hitting four 3-pointers in a late season win over the Pelicans.

His most impressive game of the year came when he made four 3-pointers for a severely short-handed Warriors squad as they battled for a hard-fought win in Philadelphia. 
 
Lee plays with constant energy and hustle, making up for some limitations in playmaking and defense. He is quick and elusive off the ball, finding openings on offense to either cut to the rim or pop-out for an open 3. With Lee standing behind the 3-point line in the corner or above the break, Curry and Green will be able to find adequate spacing.

On defense, his height and length helps him against opposing guards, and his solid instincts guides him to jump passing lanes and come up with steals.

[RELATED: Warriors have decisions to make on nine players]
 
Going into the offseason, Lee is a two-way restricted free agent, which essentially is similar to a common restricted free agent, as it will be up to the front office to decide if they want to extend him a qualifying offer. As it stands, the Warriors' roster has three guards: Steph Curry and two unproven guards in last year's first-round pick Jacob Evans III, and this year's first-round pick Jordan Poole.

With Klay Thompson expected to re-sign in free agency, and then miss the majority of the regular season, Shaun Livingston undecided on his return and Quinn Cook's future with the team up in the air, there is an opening for Lee to solidify a spot on the  team with a minimum deal. And with all the uncertainty and fluidity with the Warriors' roster, it's time to give him a real shot next season.

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