Originally posted on Celtics Town  |  Last updated 11/21/12
We are approaching that wonderful time of year when advanced stats and analysis become most useful. The sample size is large enough to show patterns, but the patterns don’t have to hold for the rest of the season because there are still so many games left. So no stats-heavy article written at this time of year should be calling for drastic changes and overhauls (unless that article is about the Wizards because yeeeeeeesh),but they CAN point out disturbing trends that need attention.The Celtics have played 11 games so far this year, and one of the biggest non-defense related problems has been Courtney Lee’s lack of consistent production off the bench. When Lee signed with the Celtics, he was considered a steal, an infusion of athleticism, youth, talent and energy entering the game with the second unit. Boston’s bench was severely unproductive last year, so Lee was hotly anticipated as a contributor.But Lee hasn’t produced like we hoped. In fact, Lee has produced like members of last year’s bench. Excluding the interchangeable Ray Allen/Avery Bradley duo who traded starting spots/sixth man roles, the bench player with the most minutes played was Mickael Pietrus.                   PER                  TS%           3-Point %        Corner 3 %Mickael Pietrus8.50.5070.33542%Courtney Lee7.60.5200.22227%So we are actually seeing LESS production from Courtney Lee than we did from Mickael Pietrus last year, which is a bad sign since Pietrus’ 8.5 PER put him at just better than half the league average of 15.0. Not good times.Lee was supposed to put an end to that. He was never a superstar of efficient production, but that’s the risk you run when you are a jumpshooting guard like Lee. Players who shoot from distance miss more shots inherently and thus are less likely to show up as hyper-efficient in the advanced stats. So Lee’s 12.6 PER last year was explainable and acceptable. His 7.6 PER this season is far from.What’s interesting about Lee’s problems is that he’s actually averaging his highest field goal percentage of his career at .455. Certainly, he’s benefitting from a small sample size (just 258 shots so far), but it’s been quite evident to anyone who watches the team on a nightly basis that Lee has been struggling. He has been consistently utilized in just two different offensive plays so far this season: spot-up shots and transition attempts. Where is he struggling the most?The answer is easy: spot-up opportunities, by a pretty wide margin. In transition, Lee has been mostly what we were hoping for. He’s averaging 1 point per possession, per Synergy Sports, and he’s shooting just over 50%, which is perfectly acceptable.But in spot-up opportunities, Lee has been much less effective. He is averaging just 0.67 ppp on 21 opportunities, and he’s 2-13 from 3-point range for a disturbing 15.4%.Last year Lee was fairly mediocre from mid-range (39% per the NBA Stats Cube) and very good on corner 3s (49%). This year, those numbers are reversed. Lee is shooting 57% from mid-range and 29% from the corner. So why is Lee struggling so much in an area from which he was fairly decent last year? Take a look at some field goal attempts from Lee this season.These shots are fairly indicative of most of Lee’s field goal attempts. Boston has a lot of offensive threats, so with the defense focused on Rondo/Garnett/Pierce, Lee often finds himself with a very clean look at the hoop. There doesn’t appear to be anything fundamentally wrong with his jumper. He’s not very contested. The passes are catching him in rhythm. To put it as bluntly as possible, he’s just missing shots.This is both good and bad. Clearly, it’s bad that Lee has started the season off his game. But since nothing seems to be wrong with his shot and since Boston’s offense continues to give him clean looks, it seems likely that he will progress to the mean, making him a much more viable spot-up threat. Lee is averaging nearly three shots fewer per 36 minutes than any other season of his career, including his rookie year. He’s also averaging nearly seven minutes per game fewer this year than last year. So it’s eminently possible that Lee is actually just struggling adjusting to his new role and that once he adjusts, he will start making more of his shots.Boston is 7th in the NBA in spot-up opportunities at 1.03 ppp, so Lee’s struggles aren’t the paramount problem for the C’s. That dubious award would go to the struggling defense and the godawful defensive rebounding. But if Courtney Lee can find his shot, expect the offense, which is already scoring four more points per 100 possessions than it did last year, to get yet another shot in the arm.Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Predators fans throw catfish on ice to celebrate Stanley Cup berth

WATCH: Draymond Green tries just a little to hard to sell foul

Eddie George fires up Predators fans before Game 4 vs Ducks

Viktor Arvidsson had bloody ‘R’ on forehead after hit

Danny Ainge’s son running for congressional seat in Utah

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Wall’s retweet saves fan from taking final exam

WATCH: Cubs pull off two miraculous defensive plays in a row

To raise money for charity, a wrestling fan has Cody Rhodes slam him on thumbtacks

Gregg Popovich on Steve Kerr’s health issues: ‘It’s just a crap situation’

CJ McCollum clearly interested in having Paul Millsap join Blazers

Injuries are depriving us from watching the Spurs thrive in the clutch

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

The 'Happy birthday to two of the NBA's all-time antagonists' quiz

The shortstop evolution continues to raise the ceiling

Three Up, Three Down: Astros dominate in every category

Box Score 5/19: Heartbreak in OT

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

The 'Happy birthday to two of the NBA's all-time antagonists' quiz

The shortstop evolution continues to raise the ceiling

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker