Lee back on track this season with Celtics

Lee back on track this season with Celtics
November 14, 2013, 3:15 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. —New coach, new teammates and a new lease on his basketball life.

This is the world that Courtney Lee lives in now, a player who fell short of living up to the expectations many had for him when he came to Boston prior to the 2012-2013 via sign-and-trade from Houston.

Today Lee isn't just meeting those expectations - he's exceeding them.

And his play has been one of the keys to the Boston Celtics' resurgence from an 0-4 start to wins in four of their last five games.

Lee has come off the bench in all nine games this season, averaging 8.4 points while shooting a team-best and career-high 56.1 percent from the field.

The Lee that fans see now, is the player that many expected to see last season when he reportedly turned down more lucrative offers to instead sign a four-year, $21.35 million deal with the Celtics.

"It's been a lot different," Lee said of this season. "I'm back to playing with confidence, taking my shots, ... pretty much back to playing the way I was before I came to Boston."

It didn't hurt that the Celtics' new head coach Brad Stevens came from Butler, and the two crossed paths often as Lee spent time as a youth playing at Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse.

"He's seen a lot of me," Lee, an Indianapolis native, said of Stevens. "I've seen a lot of him, so we built a friendship through that."

But Stevens is quick to acknowledge that the friendship that exists between him and Lee, doesn't play a role in how he doles out playing time.

"Courtney's doing a really good job with the minutes he's given," Stevens told CSNNE.com.

Throughout his pre-Boston career, the 6-foot-5 Lee was a multi-positional player who could consistently knocked down jumpers mixed in with an occasional drive to the basket.

He's doing more of that during this rebuilding season for the Celtics. And in many ways, Lee finds himself rebuilding himself.

His numbers weren't too shabby last season, averaging 7.8 points in 24.9 minutes per game with 39 starts out of 78 games. But near the end of the season, Lee's role with the team was significantly reduced as his overall play began to slip.

In the playoff series with New York, Lee had a pair of DNP-CDs (Did not play- coaches decision) while seeing his playing time chopped down to 9.8 minutes per game.

During the summer, he spent a significant amount of time breaking down his game, trying to figure out where and why things went so wrong for him.

Lee had Kwame Graves-Fulgham, the team's video coordinator, break down his shot attempts and his made field goals which provided Lee an opportunity to study his mechanics.

The studying has clearly paid off with Lee having his best season ever shooting the ball, all while contributing to a Celtics team that's still coming together.

And while Boston's quest for an NBA title was a major factor in why Lee signed with the Celtics, he's embracing the opportunity he has now even if this team isn't a title contender.

"Of course everyone wants to win a championship," Lee said. "But we're building something here, trying to get better as a team every day. I'm glad to be a part of this."