When Paul Lee was discovered to have a tear in his meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the reverberations of that injury was felt not just by his PBA team, the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters, but also by the Gilas national team.
Fortunately for Gilas, this injury will not have a major impact in their preparations for next year’s Olympic qualifiers. Unfortunately for the Elasto Painters, this injury will define their campaign in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup.
Here are the four aspects where the Elasto Painters will feel Lee’s absence:
Paul Lee is, in simple words, a playmaker. He makes good things happen, whether with good passing, strong drives to the rim, kick outs to open shooters, hitting open shots to keep the defenses honest, or controlling the tempo of the game to better suit the Rain Or Shine game plan.
He’s the focal point and engine of the Rain or Shine offense, which means that when Paul Lee is in the zone, he can almost singlehandedly destroy opposing defenses.
The fact that he can do it in so many ways, not just by scoring a ton, makes him especially hard to replace. Just consider his stats from last year’s PBA season: 15.5ppg, 4.5rpg, and 3.3 apg. Those are major numbers for someone who plays just 27 minutes a game.
Paul Lee had always been known as a scorer, not so much as a pure shooter. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t shoot. In fact, Paul Lee has been more than capable from long distance, shooting an impressive 39% from three-point land. That puts him squarely in the top 10 among three-point marksmen in the league.
This is crucial in that defenders can’t afford to sag off Lee, in fear of him getting off an in-your-face three. And when defenders play Lee tight, the threat of him blowing by for an easy lay up becomes all too real.
Lee’s shooting ability also ensures that big men like JR Quinahan, Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood have enough space in the painted area to operate in. With Lee’s defender unable to help pack the shaded lane, it becomes easier for the Painters big men to score up close.
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