When Ray Allen bolted from the Boston Celtics, they were desperate to find a replacement at the shooting guard position with Avery Bradley out until at least December and Jason Terry delegated to bench duties.
Courtney Lee was their man, getting him by swapping a handful of players to the Houston Rockets.
Somewhat of a journeyman, Lee had landed with three different squads over his short four-year career. It seemed Lee had found a solid landing-place with Boston, though, signing a three-year extension, ensuring his days running with star point guard Rajon Rondo wouldn’t be a short stint.
But over the first 11 games of the 2012-13 season we’ve seen a different Lee. Once a sharpshooting guard, who could knock down the open trey and cut into the lane to put one home is now the tentative shooter, willing to pass rather than attack.
Part of it is the new system. He hasn’t had the type of electric guard roaming the perimeter, waiting for shooters to come off screens or make baseline cuts before.
Part of it is the immense pressure Boston gives to young guys coming to the big city. Lee is surrounded by guys like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and is playing in a city where legends are born. Coming from places like Orlando, New Jersey and Houston doesn’t exactly relate.
But it really comes down to attempts.
“Shooters gotta shoot” and simply put, Lee isn’t shooting.
He’s averaging the fewest shots attempted in his career, at just five shots per game.
It’s from three-point land and around the rim where Lee is really struggling, though.
His 22 percent from behind the arc and 57 percent at the rim are the worst of his career. He’s not slashing and finishing, nor is he catch-and-shooting off of kick-out passes.
His 5.7 points per game also notches a career low, and he simply isn’t running with the flow of the game. Take last night for example, Rondo drove the lane and kicked to Lee. Instead of catch-and-shooting the ball, something that has been a staple of his career, Lee held the ball and fired an out-of-rhythm shot. These are problems, but problems that can be fixed.
Thought to be another wing that could run in transition with Rondo, Lee hasn’t made nearly the impact he was thought to bring. He’s been fantastic on the defensive end, but much like Jeff Green needed his poster dunk over Al Jefferson to revitalize his year, Lee needs a big-time play to jumpstart his tough beginning.
It’s early in the season, but the sooner Lee gets rolling, the better this Boston squad is going to look.