New York Knicks: Courtney Lee shooting more threes is a good thing
December 11, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee (5) reacts after scoring a three point basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek wants Courtney Lee to take more threes. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that’s a bad thing.

New York Knicks (16-14) shooting guard Courtney Lee is on pace to have the best shooting season of his career in 2016-17. He is second in three-point shooting (.467) behind only Joe Ingles of the Utah Jazz.

It makes sense that his head coach wants him to take more shots from downtown. Even contested ones. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Lee expressed trepidation over the change to his game.

“He’s encouraging me to take a lot of shots — more so contested shots,’’ Lee said Sunday after the Knicks fell, 119-114, to the Celtics on Christmas. “I believe I did a jab step on the corner, shot it over [Jae] Crowder. He said, ‘Those are the shots I want you take.’ It’s just me getting used to a coach like that giving me the green light to shoot contested shots. I always try to get the best shot every time down for myself or teammates. I’m going to try to listen, too.’’

The 31-year-old stuck a contested three over one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA.

Through 30 games, Lee has taken 90 shots from three-point range, and he’s averaging 3.2 attempts from downtown per game.

Lee’s comments suggest he is uncomfortable taking shots while under duress. The stats back that up. According to NBA.com, only 12 of Lee’s three-point attempts when he wasn’t “open” or “wide open”.

He didn’t have a problem knocking down this three against a close out from Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas.

The Knicks are seventh in three-point percentage, but just 23rd in three-point attempt rate.

A majority of the winning teams in the NBA are using the three-point shot as a weapon. Lee is just the guy to do it for New York.

The nine-year veteran has only shot below 37 percent from beyond the arc in one season and is already on pace to attempt more threes than he ever has. Despite shooting at a higher rate, the $50 million free agent is continuing his remarkable efficiency.

Most professional athletes don’t need to be convinced to be greedy. Lee is one of the rare exceptions. He’s always been a role player and that’s why he’s comfortable in a selfless role.

“It’s not something I try to do first and foremost,” Lee said. “Jab step and shoot the 3 over you. I feel you work the offense and execute, someone’s going to get a better shot. But in certain times, he’s telling me do it every time I’m in the corner. He’s the coach. I got to listen to him. You have to bear with me.”

Per Berman, Hornacek has told Lee that he wants him to play more like his coach.

“When he played, if he got the corner shot, he shot it with his eyes closed,’’ Lee said. “He wants me to do the same thing.’’

The coach has the stats backing him up.

Per NBA.com, Lee’s shooting 50 percent on his 38 corner three attempts.

 

Courtney Lee has already been valuable for the Knicks. He’s been one of the best shooting guards they’ve had in years.

Now he has the green light to push his game to another level on offense, one he’s never taken it to before, and make his team even better.

 

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