O.J. Mayo’s Ceiling Higher, But Courtney Lee Makes More Sense If Celtics Make Move for Guard


O.J. Mayo's Ceiling Higher, But Courtney Lee Makes More Sense If Celtics Make Move for GuardThe loss of Ray Allen stings a little bit less knowing Jason Terry is ready to throw on Green. But the Celtics could still use some backcourt depth, especially if Avery Bradley misses the start of the season.

O.J. Mayo and Courtney Lee are reported to be two potential targets for Boston. Both would be welcomed additions, but acquiring them would take a bit of finagling, as a sign-and-trade deal would likely be required to obtain either. If general manager Danny Ainge were to dig into his bag of tricks, however, Lee remains the better fit, even if Mayo boasts a higher ceiling.

Both Mayo and Lee bring plenty of talent to the table. They've both been starters in the league, they've both made an impact, and both have the versatility to play either the one or the two. Therefore, it's safe to say the addition of either would immediately improve the Celtics for the upcoming season, especially since Terry could then log more minutes at the point — a position more conducive to his smaller frame.

Lee presents less of a risk, though, which is important given the championship potential already in place. This isn't to say Mayo couldn't work out in Boston, but the Celtics need to make sure they're not opening themselves up to any potential rifts, and that potential seems higher with Mayo on board than with Lee.

Mayo excelled as a rookie and a sophomore, scoring 18.5 points and 17.5 points per game, respectively, while starting all 82 games each season. He's since been sent to the bench in order to give Memphis' second unit more of a scoring punch — a role that he's also thrived in. Mayo has said all the right things along the way, expressing a desire to do what's best for the team, but one has to wonder if the 24-year-old will eventually see two seasons on the bench as enough and long more and more for a starting gig.

Lee is in the same boat when it comes to being a starter turned bench player, having started 42 games as a rookie with Orlando and 66 games as a sophomore with New Jersey. But while he would relish an opportunity to start — as would any player — Lee's role appears to be more defined at this point. Mayo, on the other hand, is a former third overall pick who was essentially sent to the bench strictly to give it some much needed scoring. When you factor in Mayo's background of immense hype and past controversy, there just seems to be a higher potential for a clash on his end.

With a confident — perhaps cocky — floor general by the name of Rajon Rondo already in place, whoever jumps on the Celtics' ship needs to understand that they're not going to have the ball in their hands as much as they're likely accustomed to. A player in the Courtney Lee mold who can knock down open looks from beyond the arc, thus serving as a change of pace to Bradley, who gets the basket at will, is therefore the better option when presented with two comparable talents.

Again, Ainge would have to do some moving and shaking in order to land either one of these backcourt options, but it's obvious the Celtics have a need. If they address that need, they'd be wise to hold the Mayo.

O.J. Mayo photo (left) via Facebook/O.J. Mayo
Courtney Lee photo (right) via Facebook/Courtney Lee

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