From: Las Vegas
Our last wrote about UCLA's Malcolm Lee came almost a year ago, as he was adjusting to a featured role in UCLA's offense as the team's primary ball-handler and creator. With the addition of junior college transfer Lazeric Jones to man the point guard slot, Lee has made the transition to full-time shooting guard this season as a junior, and so far he's had mixed results.
Standing at 6'5” with nice length and a physique that has improved over his career at UCLA, Lee certainly passes the eye test for an NBA combo guard prospect. Unfortunately his skill set and feel for game have yet to catch up with his physical tools.
While he's spent time playing the point and now the two spot, it's still unclear what type of role offensively Lee is most comfortable in, and best suits his game for the future. Former Bruins Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday both also had some trouble adjusting to Ben Howland's methodical offensive system, and spent the majority of their time playing shooting guard. Their NBA success obviously bodes well for Lee, and has likely had some scouts giving him the benefit of the doubt for his lack of production, but at some point he's going to have to give them more reasons to take a chance on him.
When taking a closer look at Lee's role this season, it's clear from that he's been spending more time off the ball. His assist numbers are down, but his turnover numbers have decreased at a similar rate as well, as he's spending more time spotting up on the wing and less time creating offense with the ball in his hands.
Lee is still far from a shooting specialist, but he has shown flashes of having the potential to be an adequate perimeter shooter at the NBA level, and has definitely made some nice strides in this part of his game. He's shooting more 3-pointers this season and shooting 31% from behind the arc, which is up from the poor 25% he shot as a sophomore, but his mechanics look much better than when we wrote about him before.
Shot selection is probably what's hurting him the most as a shooter this season. He's shooting a solid 40% on catch and shoot opportunities, which is way up from the dismal 23% he shot last year. He's also converting a terrible 17% on off the dribble jumpers though, mainly because he's taking shots that he has no business shooting.
Lee's mid-range game is still an area that improvement as well. He's shown the ability to create space using his size and athletic ability, but he doesn't have the feel to be a consistent threat. And while his smooth first step and physical abilities help him get to the basket as a slasher, he still doesn't finish at a high rate due to a lack of strength and craftiness and occasionally being out of control.
Lee is clearly at his best when he can get out in transition and utilize his athleticism in the open court, where he has the ability to lead the break or fill the lanes as a finisher. He seems much more comfortable handling the ball in the open court, and he shows better court vision than he does when he's handling the ball in traffic. He also finishes more effectively in transition when he's more under control and can rely more on his speed and elevation at the rim. With the NBA being a more wide open style than the college game, that certainly plays more to Lee's strengths.
On the defensive end, as we've mentioned before, Lee has all of the tools to excel at the NBA level with his combination of size, length, energy, athletic ability, and experience under a defensive-minded coach in Ben Howland. The fact that he projects to be able to defend both guard spots is an added bonus to his defensive potential at the next level.
Looking forward, it's clear that Lee is a talented player with some potential to build on, as he's still only 20 years old and possesses all of the physical attributes that scouts covet. His undefined position and role, and lack production in his third season at UCLA are definitely concerns that scouts will have to consider though.
His experiment at the point didn't lead to much success last year, and he doesn't seem to have the instincts or decision making skills to ever be a pure point guard. And while he's become more efficient on catch-and-shoot opportunities, he still doesn't project to be a big-time shooter or scorer on the wing.
Lee's defensive potential is probably the area where he stacks up best as an NBA prospect at this stage. In order to give himself the best chance in the future, Lee should embrace his strength as a defensive stopper who can cover either guard position. If he can do that while he continues to improve his perimeter shooting and adds polish to his slashing and overall floor game, Lee will earns looks from NBA teams looking to fill that void on their roster.
From DraftExpress.com http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Malcolm-Lee-1355/#ixzz1QEppwuIK
< Message edited by David Levine -- 6/24/2011 6:19:23 PM >