In the third part of the series, which has seen us take a look at Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah, it's time to take a look at a player we've talked about a bit here and who promises to be a key factor in the Knicks success this year, Courtney Lee.
With the addition of Lee, combined with the resigning of Lance Thomas, the Knicks feel very confident that they have two, perimeter "glue" guys who can stretch the defense out to the perimeter creating space for their most explosive offensive players. While Lee isn't overly explosive, he may just be the most important offensive player for the team.
I guarantee there will be times this year when you're watching the Knicks thinking "something's missing" if they are giving up guard penetration on defense or they go a few minutes without scoring a basket. We'll call this The Lee Efffect.
Lee is a terrific perimeter defender, especially at the two guard spot (just ask Dwyane Wade), and he's a player adept at stopping the ball from being driven into the paint. Lee is very adept in closing out on three point attempts as 5.3 of 8.8 (60% frequency) field goals attempted against him last year were two-pointers per NBA Stats. That tells me he understands how to contest and force the defender to put the ball on the ground to take a harder shot on the move. Of those 5.3 two-point attempts opponents shot 45.9%, a difference of -1.5% than their average field goal percentage from two.
The Knicks were improved at defending the three point line last year and figure to be better with Lee in the fold off the ball. The Knicks, who leapt 10 spots in overall defensive rating finishing 18th last year ranked dead-last in defending the 3-point line in 2014-15. Last year they were 7th overall in the league at 34% per basketball-reference.com. The Knicks as a team have made great strides in improving defensively and, in adding Lee, should only improve if (stop me if you've heard this before) he can stay healthy.
Lee, 30, played 79 regular season games last season and in his career has played in a total of 50 playoff games so he's battle-tested. In 2014-15 Lee played in 77 games for Memphis starting 74. Overall, Lee has played in 600 NBA games and has logged 16,396 minutes. During that time, Lee has managed to turn himself into one of the game's most efficient and effective 3-point shooters, particularly off the catch.
Yes. Courtney Lee & Korver are only players to shoot 37% or better from 3-point territory each of the last 6 seasons https://t.co/Vbvrv23IC7- Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) September 7, 2016
Lee isn't a high-volume shooter and hopefully won't have to be, which should make him a better fit here than Arron Afflalo was last year. Afflalo at times was absolutely terrific for the Knicks and they will miss him, but what they get from Lee is less volume but solid production. If Lee is asked, due to injury or any other personnel issues, to do more then that means the Knicks roster is depleted. Lee is the perfect 4th or 5th option, but there will be moments where he'll have to carry more of a load, which will negatively impact his efficiency while increasing his points per game. He's a big shot maker and a player who will be arguably the most important player that needs to consistently remain in the lineup on both sides of the ball.