When it comes to understanding what motivates the best players to become even better, Warriors guard Damion Lee has gotten a first-hand look by scanning his own locker room.
“Steph [Curry] revolutionized the game,” Lee said on the Runnin’ Plays podcast. “But if you look at him, Klay [Thompson], Draymond [Green], a lot of guys on this team, we’re all guys that have a chip (on our shoulders).”
Lee pointed to Curry coming out Davidson, a mid-major college in North Carolina. Draft analysts called him “undersized” and “not a finisher.” Curry was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Thompson was a skinny kid getting few looks from Pac-12 schools. Washington State, a relative no-name among basketball powerhouses like UCLA and Arizona in the conference, gave him a shot. The Warriors picked Thompson No. 11 in the 2011 draft.
Green was a second-round draft pick. Warriors fans are familiar with the story that Green can rattle off the 34 players selected ahead of him in 2012 before he heard his name at No. 35.
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Now this trio wrote their own stories, forming a dynasty with three NBA championships in four seasons. Curry is a two-time NBA MVP. Green is a Defensive Player of the Year. Thompson is among the best two-way players in the league.
The Warriors made sure they paid these guys too, but fat checks didn’t lessen their hunger.
"Some people make it in the league and get their first or second deal, then level off and be complacent," Lee said. "But everyone I’ve mentioned strives for more. We want more.”
Lee himself was doubted, fending off insults that he’s only in the league because he’s Curry’s brother-in-law. Lee made his path through Drexel, then Louisville, then the G League, overcoming injuries along the way to finally earning a contract with the Warriors last season.
When Lee thinks of his teammates and the desire to improve after an injury-filled 15-win season, he continues down the roster, mentioning Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, and Juan Toscano-Anderson as fighters.
“You just have to give credit to guys who have kept that consistent chip, who want to be great,” Lee said.
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Lee landed on the idea of “intestinal fortitude,” the guts it takes to go beyond expectations and push yourself.
“Having that and knowing you want more ... There’s just a spark,” Lee explained.
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