No one on the New York Knicks is happier the triangle offense has met its doom than…Courtney Lee’s stat sheet.
The 32-year-old swingman is having one helluva year, averaging 13.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals on 49.8 percent shooting, including a 46.5 percent three-point clip—all of which are career highs. In an objective, formulaic analysis of the NBA’s best-value contracts, Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal graded Lee’s deal as the fifth most valuable among all shooting guards. He easily rates as the Knicks’ best perimeter defender, and his accuracy from three places sixth out of 119 players who have jacked at least 75 long balls, according to Basketball-Reference.
So what gives?
The absence of the triangle, obviously.
As Lee told reporters after the Knicks’ win over the Memphis Grizzlies, per ESPN.com’s Ian Begley:
“We’re not running the triangle,” Lee said. “We’re running a different offense that’s more fast-paced, and it’s more suitable for my style of play.”
Lee is a good enough catch-and-shoot marksman and okay cutter. He can work in the triangle offense. But head coach Jeff Hornacek is allowing him to dabble in other areas too. He has the green light to attack the basket off the bounce, gets to run the occasional pick-and-roll and is spending more time attacking in transition. He’s used almost half as many fast-break possessions this season, through 24 games, than he did all of last year.
It helps, too, that he isn’t competing for touches with Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a more willing passer than either of those two at this point, and the Knicks are running out more deferential point guards in general, with rookie Frank Ntilikina and veteran Jarrett Jack. Kristaps Porzingis is the clear alpha option, but after him, the pecking order isn’t as clear, which bodes well for Lee—especially now, with Hardaway expected to be on the sidelines for the next few weeks.