A Daily Babble Production
Courtney Lee plays good basketball.
In his first season out of Western Kentucky, Lee has already taken over as the starting shooting guard for an Orlando Magic team on its way to a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference. The 22nd pick of the 2008 draft makes his presence known at both ends of the court.
While Lee may not be a high-volume scorer on a team with several options in front of him (see: Howard, Dwight; Lewis, Rashard; Turkoglu, Hedo), he gets his 8.3 points per game playing efficient and intelligent offensive basketball. Lee does a fine job shooting the ball from beyond the arc (41.5 percent on the year), and he doesn't chuck from the perimeter. The 23-year-old rookie uses an up-fake followed by a one-dribble pull-up to get himself open looks from mid-range with ease. He's got the quickness and handle to get all the way to the rim as well, and he has few problems when he does take the ball to the bucket.
Lee shoots and finishes well and understands his role. He knows that he isn't the primary or secondary option on this team and rarely seems to force shots. His 57.5 percent true shooting mark is excellent, and the fact that he turns the ball over less than once per game doesn't hurt either.
The neophyte plays defense, too. The 6-foot-5 Lee uses his quickness and length to cause problems for shooting guards across the league. He plays tight defense on the ball and doesn't seem to lose his man away from it with much regularity either. That opposing shooting guards are posting just a 44.4 percent effective field goal mark with him on the floor this season only further testifies to his strong play at that end of the floor. The lack of silly fouls and foolish lunges helps the cause, too.
Sure, Lee has plenty of room for improvement. He has the size to do more on the glass than grabbing 2.2 rebounds per game, and eventually, it wouldn't hurt the 82.9 percent foul shooter to get to the line more often.
But right now, Courtney Lee is doing just about all the Magic could have expected and then some in his rookie season. And every time I watch him, I realize that I would happily take a player like him on my team any day.