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2023 Phoenix Suns Player Review: An exciting two-way player, Saben Lee provided a spark from deep on the bench

He began with two back-to-back 10-day contracts. He ended as a two-way spark plug.

Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

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.

Saben Lee

  • Position: Point guard
  • Vitals: 6’2” tall, 183 pounds, 23 years old
  • Experience: 3 years
  • Stats (regular season): 6.3 PPG, 2.8 APG, 2.0 RPG, 39.3 FG%, 37.9 3PT%, 73.7 FT%

Regular Season Recap

Saben Lee came to the Suns on a 10-day contract on January 11. At the time the team was struggling mightily with injuries. The starting five in Saben’s first appearance against the Denver Nuggets? Duane Washington, Jr., Mikal Bridges, Torrey Craig, Dario Saric, and Bismack Biyombo. Yes, things were rough in mid-January for Phoenix.

He burst on the scene as he averaged 11.4 points and 3.8 assists in his first five games with Phoenix, highlighted by a 15-point performance against the Brooklyn Nets.

Lee, who attended Corona del Sol High School locally, saw his second 10-day contract expire on February 1, at which time the Suns had to make a decision. Their decision? To bring Lee back on a two-way contract while departing for Duane Washington, Jr..

Between January 11 and February 16, we became used to Lee in the lineup. He played in all 18 games for the Suns and his 6.1 points and 2.9 assists were a welcomed addition to the bench unit. One thing he did that was out of the norm for Phoenix was attack the cylinder. His 45 free throw attempts in that time was fourth best on the team, behind Bridges, Ayton, and Okogie.

Lee ended the season with a bang, dropping 25 points in the Suns’ season finale loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Due to his two-way status, Lee was not available to play in the postseason.

Biggest Strength

Lee’s athleticism is above average, and when you couple that with his willingness to attack the cylinder, you are treated to an exciting player who gets to the line. It is an aspect of his play that I was very much appreciative of this past season. Per BBall-Index, his 15.5 drives per 75 possessions places him in the 96%tile and gives him an A+ in the category.

From a catch-and-shoot standpoint, he shot 42.1%, which isn’t nothing. But as a point guard, you typically don’t find yourself in that situation too often.

BBall-Index rates his playmaking ability as a B, which I preferred him over DWJ when the departure occurred, and his on-ball perimeter defense rated out in the 84%tile.

Biggest Weakness

Saben is raw. His shot is in need of some serious development. It is long and not fundamentally sound, and is probably why he has an affinity to driving rather than shooting.

Contract Details

  • The Suns still own the rights to Lee, who is an RFA with a $1.8M qualifying offer

If the Suns have an opportunity to bring Lee back, even as a fully guaranteed contract player, I think they should explore it as a backup to the backup. Lee is solid, although raw. If new assistant coach Miles Simon is willing to put the time into him, the same time he put into players like Lonzo ball and Jordan Clarkson, we could have a solid player on our hands.

His upside is that of a rotation player, and I wouldn't mind seeing him back next season as a Sun.

Overall Grade

  • Overall grade as an NBA player: C+
  • Relative grade to preseason expectations: A


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