This offseason is going to be an exciting one for the New Jersey Nets, but before we can move forward we must look back. Over the next couple of days, I am going to be looking at the Nets who will (most likely) be back, and review their year, from what they did well to what they didn’t. Today we are going to look at the Nets’ most improved player, Courtney Lee.
Courtney Lee had a ton of stuff to deal with this year. He got traded from a team he helped take to the finals to a team that didn’t make the playoffs, and this lead to some struggles during the first part of the season. Throughout the season, Lee basically had two groups of fans rooting against him. You had the CDR faction upset Lee was getting consistent playing time and sets run for him. You also had the “Keep VC” contingent basically hating Lee because they were expecting him to produce at the level of Vince. Through it all, Lee was able to continually improve throughout the season.
Courtney Lee’s True Shooting Percentage dropped a bit from 2009 to 2010, going from 55.6% to 52.5%. This was expected, as everyone knew that Lee wasn’t going to be able to keep up the same percentages he was able to have in Orlando with an increased Usage Rate (from 15.49 to 17.75). What was strange was how he got there. Lee’s shot was absolutely miserable in the first part of the season, but then it came on during the second half of the year. Through December, Courtney Lee’s TS% was at 47.72% (League average is 54.5%). From December on, Lee’s TS% was 55.2%. He was able to improve his shot by improving his fundamentals:
As the season went on, we saw more and more of this. Courtney Lee using proper form to get his jumpers off.
Courtney Lee made his reputation on defense last year in the playoffs, and in my opinion he didn’t disappoint in New Jersey. Using Synergy Sports, we are able to look at Lee’s defensive numbers in various situations. Against ISO sets, Lee only allowed .72 Points Per Possession on 33.8% shooting while forcing a turnover 15.2% of the time. Overall, there are 450 instances of Courtney Lee on defense tracked by Synergy. In this situations, Lee only gave up .97 Points Per Possession on 42% shooting while forcing turnovers 7% of the time.
Just A Role Player
When the Nets got Courtney Lee from Orlando, I was hoping that he would emerge into a big-time player for the Nets. However it is starting to become apparent that Lee is going to end up just a role player who can play locked down defense. When a lot was on his shoulders during the beginning of the year, he really struggled. However, when Devin started playing better and when Terrence Williams started playing to his potential, Courtney Lee started to improve. Being a role player is fine, especially if the Nets are looking at a guy like LeBron (yes!) or Joe Johnson (no!).