Talk before the Celtics preseason opener told us that the Celtics would be using David Lee as a point forward. With a starting unit that struggled to create good scoring opportunities last year, it wasn't the most exciting news that a 32 year old power forward was going to be counted on to help take this team to the next level. But, as Masslive's Jay King noted last week, Brad Stevens was adamant about Lee's ability to make his teammates better:
"He's a playmaker," head coach Brad Stevens said Thursday before practice. "The old term point-forward probably applies to him with how we want to play, especially if he's playing when Isaiah (Thomas is) not in, in those types of situations, because I think he's a guy you can play through, he's a guy that plays with the ball in the middle of the floor. He's played in spacing systems before. The game comes pretty easy passing the ball."
The way-too-early-to-draw-legit-conclusions caveats aside, David Lee was a team best +22 in yesterday's 124-91 steamrolling of Olympia Milano. Lee had his fingerprints all over this one, with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. That doesn't even account for Lee's crisp outlet passes that led to foul line trips or passes to his teammates that set up an assist. The one time Lee brought up the ball after grabbing a rebound, the end result was a Tyler Zeller lay in. His point-forward skills were evident all game long.
David Lee keeps whipping pretty passes to open teammates for good scoring chances.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) October 6, 2015
It was very obvious that the ball was moving better when Lee was on the floor for the Celtics. The man knows how to play offense. While the lineup is sure to be a work in progress, Stevens' insistence on having Lee on the floor when Isaiah Thomas is on the bench could very well be foreshadowing Lee's anchoring of the starting five. And while Marcus Smart had an efficient day yesterday (11 points on 4-5 shooting, 6 assists, no turnovers, +16), for now it seems Lee is more of a focal point once the offense is set. It will be interesting to see where Evan Turner fits in - if the offense is running through Lee and Smart, I'm not sure what that means for ET. Jae Crowder doesn't need the ball in his hands to impact the game, and Turner does. Can Turner adapt to Stevens using Lee as a point forward, or will Crowder get the lions share of the small forward minutes? A situation to watch as Stevens works out his rotations this preseason.
One thing we know for sure, David Lee can make a difference on this offense. His passing acumen and high basketball IQ has a place in Brad Stevens' motion heavy sets, and that should translate into the big man making plays throughout this upcoming season.
Photo Credit Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Follow Paul @paulcolahan Paul Colahan 10/07/2015 02:44:00 PM Tweet Edit