Another bright spark to start the Celtics season has been the re-emergence of a confident Courtney Lee. Acquired in a complicated trade during the 2012 offseason, expectations were high on a player many claimed could fill the void of #20 alongside Jason Terry at the shooting guard position last year.
While Lee managed to find some form over a stretch in January and February next to Avery Bradley as the duo of Pitbulls, C-Lee found himself bouncing from the starting line-up to a reserve role numerous times in the regular season, eventually finding his way into Doc Rivers’ doghouse as the season drew to a close. This resulted in ‘DNP – Coach’s Decision’ next to Courtney’s name in the playoff series against New York on a couple of occasions.
Lee possesses many skills that are desired from a professional basketballer; a respectable defender, a good 3-point shot, mid-range jumper, and the ability to handle the ball and finish around the rim. Last season, he played more of a passive role in the Celtics offense, often found standing in the corner to create more space for Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett to operate in.
Now, it has become more evident that coach Stevens wants Lee to be a bigger part of the team at that end of the floor, running plays to allow him to be freed up by screens. This has resulted in open looks from downtown, shots off the dribble, and drives the basket.
While the statistics don’t light up the page at a superstar level, Lee has fulfilled his role as a consistent scorer off the bench so far in the early part of the Celtics 2013/14 campaign. His confidence to shoot the ball when open has been a noticable difference, and we have seen more of the player Boston fans were hoping for last year. Through the first 9 contests, 8.3 points per game and a field goal percentage of 57% have illustrated Lee’s ability to put up points for the team at an efficient rate.
Lee told ESPN this week he rectified a flaw in his shooting stroke over the 2013 offseason
“I don’t know where it came from, I was swinging the ball from my left side to my right when I shot,” said Lee. “In the years before, I never did that. I had to get back to working on not doing it.”
“I’m back to playing with confidence,” he said. “Taking my shots, playing within the flow, pretty much back to playing the way I was playing before I came to Boston last year.”
Finding himself in a very different situation this year, Lee has been making the most of it thus far. Having been a fan of him since his rookie days in Orlando, I believe Lee can play a role in the resurgance of the Celtics, and can be a big part of the future next to the promising brigade of Rondo, Green, Sullinger, Olynyk, and others. Hopefully this strong play won’t result in a trade, but rather a strengthening of his role with the team going forward.
Let us know what you’ve thought of Lee’s play so far in the comments below.
– Michael (@mickyt34)