In an interview with Bob Ryan, Doc Rivers said that Courtney Lee will start at shooting guard for the Celtics due to Avery Bradley having offseason shoulder surgery. With that said, how will this change the Celtics game plan heading into this season, and what will Courtney Lee bring to the starting lineup on both sides of the court? Also, we can confirm that Jason Terry’s role on the team is the sixth man, which he’s already stepped into without hesitation.
Offensively, with Courtney Lee in the starting lineup, the Celtics will have a better scoring option from the perimeter, but Boston will lose their flexibility to a certain degree. Avery Bradley has become a great slasher who makes cuts to the basket, and is part of the one-two punch in the backcourt with Rajon Rondo. Seeing that Bradley will be out for at least the beginning of the season, Lee is a worthy replacement for the time being.
Lee has more offensive potential, and can put up points if he is having a good game. He’s taller which allows him to go up against bigger defenders and he doesn’t need to rely upon speed as much to get to the rim.
If there is anything the Celtics will lose offensively with Courtney Lee in the starting lineup, it will be the lack of speed in the backcourt. During the second half of last season, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley became an up-tempo duo, that at times, were unstoppable. Those two players brought energy, and on the fast break, they could beat their defenders every time up the court. Most of the fast breaks resulted from great defense, which leads me to the other side of the court.
Defensively, Courtney Lee will bring tough defense. In 2009 during the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Lee shut down Ray Allen a few times, and was just an absolute pest when defending his man. He’s quick enough to stay with some of the fastest guards in the league, and he has the length required to play such tight defense.
But one thing the Celtics will miss with Bradley out is the intensity. Bradley played every defensive possession like it was the last one of the game. He caused havoc, getting inside his opponent’s head, and his quickness was what helped him get steals. Bradley slowed down the other team’s offense which allowed Boston’s defense to assemble and get in better position to stop the opponent from scoring. For me, the loss of Avery Bradley, even if for 20 games, is a huge blow.
With Courtney Lee being named the starter, we’ll get to see how well he fills in. If he can be the player I saw shutting down one of the greatest shooters in the NBA, he will be a valuable asset on the team. When Avery Bradley gets back, can you imagine having two great defenders in the backcourt at the same time? There will be a lot of steals and opportunities for running the fast break this season, and with that, they’ll be able to put points on the board quickly.