Rajon Rondo is out, but Jordan Crawford has played well for stretches at point guard. Avery Bradley is discovering his shooting stroke (shoot, he's becoming quite the gunner in fact - which I approve of for now). Phil Pressey is getting minutes as well. But we don't often bring up Courtney Lee. Part of that is because he's not playing many minutes.
But that doesn't necessarily mean he's not playing very well.
In fact, Lee is playing less than he ever has. His 17.6 minutes per game this year is nine minutes below his career average and more than seven fewer minutes per game than he saw last season. But he’s making the most of those minutes. His offensive production is up almost across the board. His PER is currently 16.3, the highest of his career and, for the first time ever, above the league average of 15. His true shooting percentage of .578 is also at a career high and about 4 percent higher than his career average. He’s also shooting a blistering 47.6% from behind the arc, 10% better than he shot last year, and 9% better than his career average. Extrapolate those numbers out to Per 36, and Lee’s looking at 16.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.
Granted, this is small sample size stuff and it kind of falls into that category where fans yearn to see guys get larger roles because of their Per 36 numbers and the coach obviously feels differently. It may simply be an issue of not enough minutes to go around or different guys fitting different roles on the team right now. When Rondo returns you could see Lee's minutes drop to nothing, or they might just go up a little (I still like the idea of putting him on the floor with Rondo to create some more spacing with the 3 ball threat). It is hard to say right now.
With all that said, I can't shake the feeling that this whole season is just another audition for Lee's next job. He's playing better than he did last year. That is only going to help his stock as a trade chip if that's the direction that Danny Ainge wants to go.
Of course, he's also young enough to grow with this group. Maybe his next job is right here in Boston with an expanded bench role. He also might serve as an insurance plan in case the Celtics lose Avery Bradley in the next several months. He's not close to Bradley's talent, but he can be an adequate defender and could fill that 3-n-D role off the bench.
Should be interesting to see how Lee continues to develop, what his role evolves into, and how long he's in Boston.