Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive
Through an early 2-2 start to the preseason, there has been plenty to be excited about for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony looks to be in decent enough shape, Kristaps Porzingis appears to be steadily maturing from his rookie year, Brandon Jennings is building chemistry with his teammates, and there are spirited position battles as guys fight for spots and minutes in the rotation.
The most glaring questions around this team have stemmed from the recent absences of Derrick Rose and (up until recently) Joakim Noah. With all of this in mind, Courtney Lee has managed to fly under the radar, but not in a good way.
Also one of the Knicks' big time acquisitions this past summer, Lee has failed to make a positive impact this preseason. On offense, he's nowhere to be found and hasn't moved well without the ball. Lee is known for taking on the challenge of often guarding an opponent's best player, but New York will still expect him to spread the floor and serve as a long range threat.
By not keeping active around the perimeter, he's failed to get himself open. There's been a certain confidence level lacking, as Lee hasn't taken care of the ball when teammates do look his way. Needless to say, he hasn't passed the eye test.
Unfortunately, the proof is in the pudding. Lee's NetRating stands at a -14.2. To be at a negative number, following a four game sample, is not encouraging. In addition to being amongst the lowest in the league, such a statistic slots Lee well below other fellow shooting guards, such as Arron Afflalo, Eric Gordon, Avery Bradley, and Iman Shumpert.
What's more, Lee's PER (6.93) is at an abysmal low. An NBA veteran of eight seasons, his efficiency has never been so low, in any other regular season, preseason, or playoff sample size. It's clear to see that Lee hasn't really had his fingertips anywhere on where the Knicks have done positive things this month. The guard also boasts the lowest PIE (3.4) on the squad.
It'd be simple to point to a player's low averages or underwhelming field goal percentages and conclude they are not producing. For Lee, however, his role on the Knicks is about much more than putting up numbers. Instead, he was specifically brought in because he has the ability to seamlessly find his way alongside any number of different lineups. He doesn't need the ball. Over the course of his career, Lee has found other ways to ensure his presence is felt.
Based on the aforementioned advanced statistics, however, Lee still isn't pulling his weight thus far. He's not making the intangible impact the Knicks are hoping for. Is he moving well without the ball? Is he making the necessary extra pass, setting screens, keeping up with his man on defense, filling spaces correctly, not committing turnovers, etc.? Unfortunately the answer to those very questions, more often than not, has been a resounding no.
Lee is already well respected in the Knicks' locker room and has received the outspoken support of the likes of Jeff Hornacek and Carmelo dating back to media day. It's up to his teammates and the coaching staff to see to it that gets more involved, and does so in a positive way. Embrace him on the court, and encourage him off of it, so that New York is not forced to play a game of four on five when he checks in.