Breaking down Courtney Lee - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Breaking down Courtney Lee

(WMC-TV) - As fans say goodbye to playoff star and backup combo guard Jerryd Bayless, the Grizzlies are working on setting up new schemes for shooter Courtney Lee.

Lee is a 6-foot-5 shooter who can hit the corner three, and has a great one-dribble pull up. The biggest thing that he will bring is the ability to open up passing lanes.

When a ballhandler gets a perimeter screen, his defender can either go over or under the screen. Going "over" the screen mean a defender will go around the screener and trail the shooter. This is done when the shooter cannot be left with space, like Courtney Lee. When a defender goes over a screen, he is closer to the man he is guarding, leaving more space for a pass - thus opening the passing lane.

A defender going over a screen will be more impeded by the screen and will trail the shooter. This causes a potential switch. The screener's defender would cover Lee, and Lee's previous defender would cover his screener - usually a bigger player like an Ed Davis or Jon Leuer. A switch causes a mismatch, and the more an offense can force the defense to switch, the more likely the defense will make a mistake. This should eventually cause an open shot for someone else, because the defense is worried about Lee.

What makes Lee especially dangerous in this situation is his ability to shoot off a one-dribble pull up. If a defender tries to go "under" (behind the screener) a screen on Lee, Lee will just pull up and shoot with his space. He'll hit much of the time, as he's shooting 44% from three this season.

The Grizzlies are dead last in the league in threes made AND threes attempted per game. Defenses know that the Grizzlies are less likely to take a 3 than every other team in the league, meaning they will not shoot as much even if defenders go under the screen. When a defender goes under a screen, he is further away from the man he's guarding, giving the ball handler less space for a passing lane.

Talking to Coach Dave Joerger today, he seems to be happy about getting those lanes open with Lee.

"Now defenses can't just go under (screens) and one thing begets another, and you get two guys committed to the basketball, or committed to an action - then something else is open. If people are able to under every single thing that we do, every pick that we set, you never put the defense in a problem, so I think just the threat of having him in that situation will help our team," said Joerger.

This link to a video of a Lee play shows what I'm talking about. Ed Davis sets a high ball screen for Lee, when Manu Ginobili is defending him. Ginobili's body is in a better position to go under Davis' screen, but he's trained to trail to a good shooter, which forces him to try to go over the screen. Because he's not in the correct position to go over the screen, it's effective, and Lee has plenty of room for an open shot.

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