Welcome to our Phoenix Suns Season in Review series where we do individual PLAYER REVIEWS of each man that contributed in the 2022-23 season. We go through the roster to analyze what went right/wrong for them, and what they can do to get better for next season. We’ve done Devin Booker, it’s time for another “D”...D. Lee!
Welcome (or welcome back!) to our series recapping the individual performance of the members of the Phoenix Suns this past season. Today we’re looking back at the campaign of Damion Lee, a veteran who came to the Suns from the Golden State Warriors, and for awhile became one of the team’s most important bench contributors.
- Position: Shooting guard
- Vitals: 6’5” tall, 210 pounds, 30 years old
- Experience: 6 years
- Stats (regular season): 8.2 PPG, 1.8 APG, 3.0 RPG, 44.2 FG%, 44.5 3PT%, 90.4 FT%
Regular Season Recap:
Lee started the season as one of the Suns’ top bench players. In November, December, and January, he averaged more than 22 minutes per game and even picked up four starts. He averaged double figure scoring in January, a time frame covering Landry Shamet’s extended absence due to a foot injury.
He had a bad February, however, posting a true shooting percentage under 50%, and he never recovered from that in terms of his role on the team. After playing in every game up to that point, Lee got himself a DNP-CD on March 14, and then proceeded to be glued to the bench for 8 of the Suns’ final 14 contests. The appearances he did make over the final stretch were largely perfunctory, with some of them just being 3 or 4 minute check ins.
Again, Lee didn’t recover in Monty Williams’ eyes after his February struggle and Shamet’s return. He was a non-factor in the postseason, playing only 11 minutes per game and not playing very well.
The only game in which he saw significant time was in the Suns’ Game 2 loss to the Denver Nuggets, in which he was scoreless with 6 rebounds and 2 assists in 25 minutes. Shamet returned to most favored bench shooting guard after that, and Lee was basically out of the series until soaking up some garbage time during the Game 6 blowout loss to end the season.
Lee excelled as a low volume marksman this season, shooting almost 45% from downtown on 3.3 attempts per game. He was especially lethal from the corner, from where close to 40% of his three point attempts came. He knocked down over 49% of those shots, providing an extremely reliable catch and shoot option for the Suns’ playmakers.
Lee was also a guy you loved to have on the floor when the Suns were in the bonus, as he shot over 90% from the free throw line and even went a perfect 14/14 from the stripe in a January road win over the Warriors.
All of this is to say that Lee’s main value is as a shooter. He’s a guy who tries hard on defense, and that energy and enthusiasm can be infectious, but more on that in the next section. He’s a good veteran “glue guy.”
In an era when shooting guards are tending toward being the most do-everything players on the court, Lee doesn’t really bring a lot to the floor besides his shooting. He’s a below-average creator who really can’t be counted on to be a floor general for even the second unit. He can’t effectively create his own shot with any regularity, and isn’t especially effective outside his role as a catch and shoot marksman.
Despite his willingness to try on defense, he lacks both physicality and explosive quickness, which leaves him vulnerable against athletic basket attackers. At the same time, he lacks the size and and strength to match up on frontcourt players effectively.
In short, if Lee isn’t running into the corner and splashing triples, there isn’t a lot to justify his presence on the floor. He simply doesn’t do enough.
Lee was only on a one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Suns. He is now an unrestricted free agent.
Final Season Grade:
I arrived at this grade after some thought. Lee excelled in his very limited role, which I would contend was all the team was really seeking from him. He was, as mentioned, on a dirt cheap one-year contract. So to have gotten a guy who shot well over 40% from downtown and provided a steady presence on the bench for most of the year while remaining ready to go all year long....how can you really grade him too harshly?
At the same time, he didn’t necessarily exceed expectations by much either, so he doesn’t necessarily deserve a shining grade. Especially because he did not play well in some key spots where he might have impacted the season more positively.
How do you grade Damion Lee’s season, including the playoffs?
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