RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Malcolm LeePosted by rtmsf on May 17th, 2011
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Malcolm Lee
Height/Weight: 6’5/175 lbs.
NBA Position: SG
Projected Draft Range: Late first round/Early second round
Overview: Malcolm Lee is one of a handful of early entry candidates who are looking to take advantage of a weak draft (made weaker by the surprising return to school of some lottery-level players) and sneak into the back end of the first round. And given the success of recent UCLA guards in the NBA, he’ll likely be worth a flyer late in the first thirty selections. Lee came to Westwood as a highly regarded wing and was a solid contributor for the Bruins the last two seasons, finishing second on the team in scoring in both years. However, the two years were very different. As a sophomore, Lee was called on by head coach Ben Howland to take on much of the point guard duties as the Bruins struggled out of the gate. He stepped up and did a fine job, averaging over three assists per game and adding 4.4 rebounds per outing while still providing a scoring punch. As a junior, Lee was called on much more for his defensive abilities, as he was repeatedly charged with checking the opponent’s best scorer – guys ranging from Klay Thompson to Jimmer Fredette – and partly as a result, the Bruin defense bounced back from a bad year in 2009-10 to lead the Pac-10 in defensive efficiency last season. While Bruins fans would have liked to see Lee come back for one more season and improve his offensive game, he does leave UCLA after spending the last two of his three years doing whatever was asked of him by the coaching staff.
Will Translate to the NBA: Defense. Lee bought into the role of UCLA’s defensive stopper as a junior, and that’s the strength upon which he’ll hang his hat in the NBA. His combination of length and quickness will allow him to match up with both guard positions at the next level although he still needs to add some bulk and strength. While Lee doesn’t post huge steal (or block) numbers, he is an instinctive team defender who doesn’t back away from a challenge and doesn’t need to have his offensive game going whole hog in order to play with energy and emotion on the defensive end.
Needs Work: There are a lot of holes in Lee’s offensive game. While he got minutes at the point in Westwood, he never established himself as a creator with the ball in his hands as his mediocre career assist-to-turnover ratio (1.14-to-1) proves. It would seem that Lee is destined to be an NBA off-guard, but given the fact that he only shot 27.8% from three in his time at UCLA, he’s got a lot of work to do on his shot. Worse yet, despite his struggles from deep, he never hesitated to hoist a three, perhaps more understandable when you consider his mid-range game isn’t a lot better. Lee has the potential to become a competent offensive player, and certainly previous UCLA guards have had their offensive numbers muted a bit under Howland, but he simply doesn’t appear to be ready yet to contribute on the offensive end in the NBA.
Comparison Players: Keith Bogans, maybe DeShawn Stevenson. A guy who could play opposite a scoring point guard in the backcourt, never need a play run for him, be content to lock down the opposition’s best guard and knock down the occasional three. For him to compare well with Bogans and Stevenson, he’ll need to get much stronger and dial in the three-point shot, but should he do that, Lee could have a long NBA career even if the casual NBA fan rarely notices him.
Best Case Scenario: Hey, maybe once Howland’s shackles are removed, Lee turns into a solid offensive player who can shoot from deep, create a bit off the bounce and score in a variety of ways in and around the paint. But until and unless that happens, Lee has to be considered a role player in the NBA – a tough defender, a spot-up shooter and a solid athlete in transition. If he can just do those three things well (and really, he’s got everything but the shooting down already), he can stick in the league for a decade. But he could sure use a summer in the weight room and a cheeseburger or two.
2014 Projection: Lee has bulked up to 205 pounds, he’s knocking down threes at a 38% clip and he’s getting 20 minutes per game in the same backcourt as an all-star point guard. When you glance over his team’s box scores each morning, your eyes automatically filter out his name maybe 70 nights a year, but his coach and his teammates love him, even if he is already on his third team in as many years.
Best NBA Fit: Chicago’s got a couple picks at the end of the first round, and playing across from a guy like Derrick Rose would be the ideal landing spot for Lee, but Bogans is already filling that role there. Maybe Miami at the start of the second round snaps him up to compete with Mario Chalmers or maybe the Wizards grab him a few picks later to team up with John Wall. If you’re a defense-first guard, there are a lot of good landing spots in the NBA, but in an ideal situation for Lee, he vaults into the first round and gets picked up by a perennial contender with a penetrating point guard and a group of veterans. Give him to Boston near the end of the first round.
Scout’s Take (Chris Denker from Netscouts Basketball): “not a big fan… he doesn’t shoot it well enough and I think he’s going to struggle to find offense at the next level.”