For Celtics' Lee, knowing role is half the battle


For Celtics' Lee, knowing role is half the battle

WALTHAM Know your role.

For all the Ubuntu chatter, for all that goes into dictating how well or woeful the Celtics play, this concept - knowing your role - is at the heart of what being a Boston Celtic is about.

For newcomer Courtney Lee, part of knowing his role is to embrace the reality that while the quality of his shots will improve in Boston, the quantity will likely decrease.

Lee is averaging 6.7 shots per game thus far, which would be a career-low for him.

The 6-foot-5 guard has no problem with his role, but admits it will take some time to get used to.

"It's a big adjustment from last year," said Lee, who spent the past two seasons in Houston. "Last year I was more of a go-get-it in transition, pick-and-roll offense, reading (coverages) and now it's making sure I'm in the right spots and ready to shoot."

One of the reasons Boston was so eager to add Lee was because of his ability to knock down corner 3-pointers - only former Celtic Ray Allen had a higher shooting percentage on corner 3s than Lee last season.

Because of Rajon Rondo's ability to break down defenses, Lee has had a number of better-than-average looks at the basket that simply haven't gone down for him.

"With this offense, I'm going to get a whole bunch of open looks," Lee said. "With timing and comfort, it'll start falling."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers is always looking for ways for his players to contribute.

But getting more shots for Lee doesn't exactly rank high on his list of priorities.

"If you want me concerned with guys getting shots, it's Paul (Pierce), Kevin (Garnett), (Rajon) Rondo, Jet (Jason Terry) ... the other guys, their shots will come through the offense. So it's not anything that I'm concerned by. Courtney will make shots."

Following Boston's 89-86 win at Washington on Saturday, Lee had four points but missed five of his seven shot attempts.

Not surprisingly, he wasn't happy with his play offensively after the game.

"We were talking after the game, the wide open shots he missed," Rivers recalled. "He's just not used to getting that many. He has to be a ready shooter."

Which is a role that Lee is gradually getting to know.

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.