David Lee: ‘It’s got to start for me on the defensive end’

Warriors forward David Lee has established himself offensively. In three seasons with Golden State, he’s averaged 18.2 points on 51 percent shooting.

He feels the same about his rebounding, having averaged 10.3 boards per game as a Warrior.

“I’m going into my ninth season,” Lee said after Wednesday’s shootaround. “Offensively and rebounding, you know what you’re going to get from me.”

But Lee has his mind set on taking his play to a different level. And the most obvious area of improvement is on the defensive end.

Often chided for his poor defense, Lee — a two-time All-Star — said he is emphasizing that end of the court this season.  That begins tonight in the Warriors’ season opener, against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

Lee said he will defend Shawne Williams, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s attempt at stretching the floor. But he expects to spend plenty time matched up against Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman.

“The key for me, “Lee said, “is making the extra effort plays and bringing the energy. I expect to have a much better year defensively.”

Lee said, if you’ve been paying close attention, you’d notice the strides he’s made in the preseason. He said he’s doing a better job of staying latched to his man, and being ready to provide help. He also likes the development of his pick-and-roll coverage, one of his major defensive weaknesses.

So far so good, if you don’t mind him saying.

“I’m not claiming to be Andrew Bogut,” Lee said. “But defensively in the post, I’ve been a lot better.”

The trick, Lee said, is maintaining the focus and energy. He said the film snitched on him for taking plays off on defense, saving his juice for his heavy burdens on offense. But he is convinced his improved conditioning will help eliminate that from his game.

Lee, who had surgery to repair a torn hip flexor he suffered in his first career playoff game, reported to camp in the best shape of his career. In the process of rehabilitating his hip, he lost some 20 pounds and strengthened his core.

That’s surely going to help his offensive game, he’s said, because he’s more explosive and spry. But he said he wants to be a more complete player.

“I want to improve my game each season,” Lee said. “It’s got to start for me on the defensive end.”

Marcus Thompson