The New York Knicks are having another bad season, but somehow they’re must watch television. There is one surprising reason for this. 31-year-old Courtney Lee.
Courtney Lee is the best thing about the 2016-17 New York Knicks and this is why. Lee leads the team in effective FG%, is second in 3 point percentage and 4th in both minutes and scoring. Lee is playing efficiently taking few shots but it efficient and is the leader in offensive rating per 100 possessions. Courtney Lee is quietly having his best statistical season and playing some of his, and the team’s, best basketball.
The numbers alone are quite impressive but aren’t telling the whole story. When you watch the Knicks play there are few standout players. Everyone watches Carmelo Anthony, the elite shooting future hall of Famer and talisman of the Knicks. People watch Derrick Rose try to figure out where his career is going, the former MVP trying to recover his form. Kristaps Porzingis, the exciting big man out of Europe heading towards a massive future in the NBA, along with the Spanish rookie Willy Hernangomez who look like the future of the Knicks backcourt for years to come.
These are intriguing players who make for interesting stories, but the man who makes the Knicks tick is Courtney Lee. The 6-5 shooting guard doesn’t bring hype or even that much swagger to the Knicks, but what he does bring is the efficient scoring, they lack in Rose and Melo. Shooting. 426% from outside, Lee has made his home in the corners and is particular effective off the catch and shoot, but is able to create his own looks with his ability to fake out defenders to create separation and simply beat defenders off the dribble. Lee is able to supplement his plus shooting with a soft touch around the rim, solid if unspectacular passing and rebounding numbers and the competitiveness he learned whilst playing for Michael Jordan. My question when I watch a Knicks broadcast is always, “What is Lee doing and how will they get him the ball?”
Lee is an exciting and enjoyable player to watch, he is able to create and finish good chances, and rarely takes a bad shot. He doesn’t come with the flash of Rose or the star appeal and drama of Melo, but there he is, going about his business scoring efficiently, spacing the floor and creating problems for opposition players. Lee has the ability to make defenders look downright foolish when he scores and doesn’t need the huge amounts of possessions to make it happen. He is an efficient basketball player for the Knicks and this is what they need and what they lack in Rose and Melo who take too many bad shots on bad possessions. The Knicks have a very good outside shooter on an inside dominated team and I would hope the rest of the way they give Lee the chance to shine.
Thursday’s game in Cleveland was a prime example of this. Lee had 25pts, 5 assists and 6 boards shooting 10 of 15 and went 2 for 2 at the line. He’s an outside player who doesn’t draw many fouls. The Knicks need to put the ball in the hands of Lee more as teams need to cover him. This would allow the Melos, Roses and Porzingis’ more space and opportunity to score. Simply put, give Lee the ball and watch the team score more points and win more games.
I had one hope for one team at the deadline. That was for the New York Knicks to trade Melo and Rose away. A line up featuring Porzingis, Hernangomez, Lee and Ricky Rubio plus a decent small forward excites me. The passing and defence of Rubio would have lead to greater thing for the 2 bigs and would have lead to more scoring opportunities and better looks for Lee. It would have been a horrible trade(Rose for Rubio) for the Wolves, but a great trade for the Knicks.
Any moves made by the Knicks to make Lee a bigger part of the offence, I wholeheartedly support and encourage. He is the most interesting, entertaining and exciting member of the Knicks in 2016-17, and at $11 million for the season he is doing good work at a great price. The New York Knicks should move on from Melo and make Lee a focal point until Porzingis and Hernangomez are ready to take over the team. It would be more efficient use of money and allow the Knicks the chance to rebuild and become a force in the East.