The Hawks were desperate for a wing when they plucked Damion Lee out of the G League and signed him to a 10-day contract on March 13.
Both Jaylen Morris and Kent Bazemore had suffered injuries two days before and DeAndre’ Bembry was still on the shelf. That left Andrew White as the only wing on the bench Hawks’ bench before they added Lee.
Lee immediately seized the opportunity with a strong NBA debut in a loss to the Thunder: 13 points on eight shots, four rebounds, two assists one steal and one turnover in 17 minutes. Lee was aggressive in that game and that’s how he continued to play over a total of 15 games (11 starts) and 404 minutes with the Hawks.
Lee couldn’t keep up his efficient scoring because of poor accuracy on a high rate of 3-point shots (11-for-60). However, Lee shot 51.1 percent on 2-pointers, including 25-for-33 at the rim per Cleaning the Glass, and showed pretty good play-making ability with a very low turnover rate. Lee was better in transition than the halfcourt, and he also shot 3-pointers poorly in the G League, but he showed some potential as a scorer.
Defensively, Lee had a high steals percentage, pretty good rate of deflections and rebounded very well. Hawks opponents scored 12.3 points less per 100 possessions with Lee on the court vs. off, according to CTG. A lineup that featured Lee alongside DeAndre’ Bembry and Taurean Prince was particularly effective defensively albeit with a small sample size of 46 possessions.
Lee played one season at Louisville as a graduate transfer. I’m a lifelong fan of the Cardinals so I watched Lee play a lot then. He was a good player for the Cardinals but, honestly, I was surprised at Lee’s solid performance with the Hawks. His game has matured since college, especially in regard to his ability to score off screens and make decisive moves with the ball.
Lee appeared to belong on an NBA court during his short Hawks stint yet his future in the league is uncertain because he’ll be 26-years old in October and has had two ACL surgeries. Lee apparently drew some interest from other teams before signing his second 10-day contract but he still wasn’t able to get a commitment from the Hawks for 2018-19.
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