Name: Courtney Lee
Birth Date: October 3, 1985 (age 23)
Birth Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
College: Western Kentucky
Drafted: 2008, 1st round, 22nd overall by Orlando
Experience: 1 season
Contract: $1.26 million in 2009-10
Fair or not, all eyes are going to be on Courtney Lee going into this year because he is the man who is basically replacing Vince Carter. If Courtney Lee is going to get Nets fans to forget about Vince Carter, he is going to need to improve on his solid rookie season (and his terrific playoff performance). To Nets fans, on offense Courtney Lee is going to need to match Vince Carter's production. Is that even possible?
The thing is Courtney Lee and Vince Carter's games aren't even close to being the same. Despite both playing the SG position last year, these guys don’t really play it the same way. One of the biggest knocks on Vince Carter was his unwillingness to take it to the basket. He seemed almost content to take pull-up jumpers all day. 75% of his shots were jumpers, while 20% were labeled as close shots by 82games.com. Compare it to Courtney Lee, and you see that Lee is much more aggressive in terms of attacking the basket. Only 71% of Courtney Lee’s shots were jumpers (when you look at this number, you need to take into consideration the team he played for too. I really do believe that if he was playing for a different team this number would be lower), while 25% of his shots were labeled as close. When Lee does take jumpers, he hits them consistantly. Lee’s eFG% on jumpers was .491 while his eFG% on lay-ups was .571.
Despite his unwillingness to take the ball to the basket Vince Carter was still able to put up better assist numbers than Courtney Lee. Carter averaged 4.7 assists per game (mainly dishing out of double teams) while Lee averaged 1.2 assists per game. Even with the high assists number, I still feel like Courtney Lee is a better fit in Lawrence Frank’s dribble-drive offense. This biggest complaint I had with Vince Carter last year was how the ball would “get stuck” with him. Courtney’s game and style of play (where he likes to drive and attack the basket) means a much more efficient offense.
No matter how good Courtney plays on offense this year, his biggest contribution is going to be on the defensive end this year. Courtney Lee just seems to have a desire to play defense, and he shows that with his aggressive play on the defensive end. Courtney Lee held the opposition to a PER was 15.0, which means. Plus, there aren’t many players who can make Kobe admit that he is frustrated, let alone a rookie. I just love it when young players work on the defensive end, because they are going to struggle on the offensive end from time to time, but they are still able to contribute positively with their defense. Courtney Lee already is this team’s defensive stopper (Trenton Hassel doesn’t really count), and if he can reach his potential offensively, he can become a superstar for the Nets.
The thing that really impressed me the most about Courtney Lee when watching him last year in the playoffs was his poise. He was a rookie playing in the finals covering Kobe Bryant. He could have folded, he could have played like a rookie, but he played like a 10 year vet.
I guess this is why many Nets fans were surprised with how Lee handled the trade at first. But when you take a step back, you realize that he was a young guy who just went from the Eastern Conference Champions to the "worst team in the east". No worries though, from all reports, he is all over that now.
The Nets have had defensive stoppers before, Trenton Hassell for example. It is just that they have never been able to do anything on the offensive end. Courtney Lee on the other hand can be a all-around player, and probably the best defender we have on the roster.
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