Courtney Lee Trade Gives Hornets A Jolt On Perimeter

Nov 15, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee (5) dribbles in the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 15, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee (5) dribbles in the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Courtney Lee trade gives the Charlotte Hornets a jolt on the perimeter.

The Charlotte Hornets were reeling from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist having to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, but general manager Rich Cho isn’t letting the injury derail the team’s playoff hopes this season.

With the Detroit Pistons upgrading their frontcourt in Tobias Harris today, Charlotte responded by bolstering their outside shooting by trading for Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard Courtney Lee.

Both teams are in the hunt for a playoff berth, making upgrades to improve their respective organizations. The Hornets dealt two rotational pieces in Brian Roberts and P.J. Hairston to the Miami Heat and Grizzlies, respectively. The Grizzlies also received Chris Andersen as part of the deal.

Per The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets also jettisoned two future second-round picks to Memphis for compensation. On the surface, this looks like an obvious attempt on Charlotte’s part to not be pushovers late in the season for the second consecutive year.

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  • Lee comes in as an upgrade for a shooting guard contingency in Charlotte that ranks 15th in field goal percentage and 21st in three-point field goal percentage. Averaging 10.0 PPG on 45.8 percent shooting from the floor, he’s an efficient gunner who can create for himself off the dribble when needed.

    In catch-and-shoot situations, the veteran from Western Kentucky University is knocking down a respectable 40.6 percent of his attempts. He provides emerging point guard Kemba Walker with another scorer in the lineup, as the team is missing the important Al Jefferson down low.

    Lee also gives the team a clear upgrade over the sporadic P.J. Hairston, who didn’t live up to the billing of a first-round pick in Charlotte. Now, head coach Steve Clifford can slide Nicolas Batum over to the small forward role and insert Lee into the starting lineup if the position isn’t assumed by Jeremy Lamb.

    Lamb has played in 43 total games, but has yet to start in one of them. He’s a potent scorer off the bench (10.5 PPG in 20.5 MPG) and would relieve some of the pressure off of Lee-encompassing the starter role in a new environment.

    The spacing Lee provides the Hornets is immense since Lamb, Hairston and Kidd-Gilchrist aren’t three-point aces by any means. A career 38.3 percent shooter from deep, the No. 14 offense in the league has become more diverse. He’s also not solely reliant on the three-point shot to accumulate points; Lee is useful in a plethora of areas on the court on offense.

    Below is his shot chart on the season, articulating his effectiveness in all three areas of offense (perimeter, mid-range, painted area).

    Shotchart_1455657499632 /

    Whether it be a floppy set or coming off a screen on a curl, Lee gives Charlotte options for Walker to dish to. While he’s a versatile addition on the offensive end, Lee has yet to show the ability to excel in areas outside of putting the ball in the basket consistently.

    At 6’5″ and 200 pounds, Lee isn’t the type of rebounder you’d expect in a solidly built 2-guard. He’s currently No. 223 in the NBA in rebounds per game, bringing in just 2.3 per game at 30 years old. Lee has already grown into his ideal shooting guard frame, but it’s concerning for Charlotte fans to lose the 3.7 rebounds per game that Hairston and Roberts brought to the team.

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    However, Walker and Batum bring in nearly 11.0 rebounds per game in total, so Lee won’t be called upon to bang on the boards with stronger wings. He’ll likely have the same role as he did for head coach Dave Joerger in Memphis, help out on the perimeter with the scoring production and provide solid defense.

    Lee had the same defensive rating as both Mike Conley and Jeff Green on the Grizzlies, and can be envisioned helping out Kemba Walker dealing with star players defensively on the perimeter.

    To get a key asset for a playoff push, Charlotte arguably bought low on a veteran with considerable amount of playoff experience. As NBCSports’ Kurt Helin acknowledges, the Hornets felt that both Hairston and Roberts weren’t going to amount to more than rotational talents on the roster and the two second round picks were treated as fillers.

    Charlotte’s path to locking down a second playoff berth in three seasons is more easily accessible than both Detroit’s and Chicago’s.’s Playoff Probability Report says that Charlotte has the easiest strength of schedule for the remainder of the season out of the three teams.

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    With Lee, the Hornets look be to a viable contender that’s added a bit of buzz back to a relatively average roster. This year, Charlotte is primed to remain in the playoff race and enter the postseason once again as the Hornets.