If the Phoenix Suns are making a list and checking it twice, they’ll quickly find out who’s been naughty and nice as far this season. High atop that list of those who qualify for the “nice” category is 30 year-old acquisition Damion Lee.
Lee’s addition to the roster by James Jones has been not only one of the surprising transactions this off-season, it’s been one of the most productive and beneficial to the team. If not the most.
When news broke that Lee was joining the team, I doubt many general managers throughout the NBA were frustrated that they missed out on his services. It didn’t make the bottom line of ESPN’s ticker. He was a player with five years experience who mildly contributed to a championship for the Golden State Warriors (averaged 2 points in 7.8 minutes played through 16 games during their postseason run last year).
His résumé wasn’t chock full of high upside moments. Lee was a career 35.7% three-point shooter, 3.5 rebounds per-game, and 8.2 points. 49% of his shots came from beyond the arc, so it appeared that James Jones was fortifying his second unit three-point shooting with the move.
It wasn’t a hard sell for James Jones. As Lee noted, “Had a conversation with James Jones. I was sold. Similar morals, similar beliefs. Play my game, have fun along the way.” The Suns reach a one-year, $2M deal with Lee.
Jones got more than they bargained for, at least early this season. His price-for-value-paid is through the roof.
The addition of Damion Lee has allowed the Suns second team offense to be productive, and his 202 points makes up 25.5% of the Phoenix Suns bench scoring thus far this season. That is a pretty big chunk and is a good barometer of how valuable he has been to this team through the first quarter of the season.
Damion Lee has scored 189 points this season, averaging 8.2 points-per-game. His scoring has accounted for 25.3% of all Phoenix Suns bench scoring.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) December 5, 2022
Helluva pickup by James Jones. pic.twitter.com/ryVbaQfJOA
Damion Lee has been everything we wanted Landry Shamet to be. Consistent. Confident. A flame thrower from beyond the arc. He has added a physicality to the second team unit from the guard position we haven’t seen since Jevon Carter was a member of the team, and at 6’5” he has the ability to play the small forward position.
He is also second amongst bench players with 3.6 rebounds a night.
His attitude about him is infectious. He’ll stick his nose into plays and disrupt the opposition’s flow. He’s third on the team with two technical fouls, behind Devin Booker (5) and Deandre Ayton (3).
We expected him to shoot the three-ball. I’m not sure that we expected him to do so in such an efficient manner. Of qualifying players, he is second in the NBA in three-point shooting at 48.9%. Maybe we’ll see DL33 in Salt Lake City for the Three-Point Contest?
Qualified 3PT% leaders:— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) December 5, 2022
Malcolm Brogdon - 49.4%
Damion Lee - 48.9%
Sam Hauser - 47.1%
Brandon Ingram - 46.7%
Al Horford - 46.6%
Kelly Olynyk - 46.6%
Corey Kispert - 46.2%
Jerami Grant - 46.1%
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - 46%
Josh Green - 46%
Grant Williams - 46%
Lee made an impact in his first game with the Suns, hitting the game-winner against the Dallas Mavericks. The team was down 22 points at one point during the game, and due to foul trouble, Damion found himself in the game for the entire fourth quarter.
He stepped up.
Lee went 4-of-7 from the field in the fourth, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in the period, scoring a team best 11 points. Including that game winner.
“Ball was in my hands, just go make a play,” Lee said. “I know people are giving me the credit with the game-winning shot, but this was a total team effort.”
He has continued to play valuable minutes for Phoenix, seeing as numerous teammates have missed time due to injury. He is one of the reasons they find themselves with the 3rd best three-point shooting in the NBA, nailing 38.6% of their three-pointers.
As the season progresses, and teammates become healthy once again, we should continue to see the services of Damion Lee. His addition has given their first true sixth-man type since Leandro Barbosa during the Steve Nash era. It is a welcomed surprise from a free agency period that many thought the Suns didn’t do enough to fortify their roster.