Our Suns Player Preview’s continue, this time focusing on a player who has shown flashes of excitement and an affinity to attack the cylinder. The local Phoenix product fills a need for the Suns, but will he have the runway to launch?
Guard, 6’2”, 183 pounds, 24-years old
Not knowing what to expect entering last year from Saben Lee, he sure made me jump out of my seat a few times. It wasn’t due to insane dunks or Nash-like passes, It was the fact that Lee saw the floor very well with little experience and almost zero time spent with the Phoenix Suns last year.
He maximized his minutes and, due to being a two-way contract, was not part of the postseason roster. I felt he earned playoff minutes last year. It didn’t happen, but Lee has the right mentality, game, and competence that this Suns team is looking for as for a backup point guard.
His stats are not worth mentioning, but his game is worth the rewind.
Lee is currently on a two-way contract (signed July 13, 2023) and it will be an uphill battle for him to stay on the team through the regular season and into the playoffs.
For a player at his size, Lee plays bigger than his frame. He has a knack for finding himself at the rim, and using his body to create space, drawing contact, and also finding great angles when it comes to using the glass.
The confidence to shoot the three is there, but he isn’t someone to settle. With only 1.3 attempts from three, he did end his short season at 38%. It is a rather funky shot though, right?
He has a high IQ for his position and a continued growth throughout last season that ended quicker than I would have liked. In only 110 games (for his career) and 25 games last year, you could see that he was ready for the moment. Honestly, I could see it in his first game played as a Sun.
That is his biggest strength. Someone who is ready for the opportunity, subbed in and got the job done when called upon. Sure, he had his mistakes, but the positives outweigh the negatives by a landslide.
I am probably the biggest Saben Lee fan, so it is hard for me to point out any weaknesses in his game. At times you could see that the game was a little too quick for him but with the more minutes he piled up, he was able to learn fast and adapt…there I go, turning a weakness into a strength.
Lee has a resilience out on the floor, but at times can look like the moment might be a little too big for him. There will be a lot of competition for him this year and I think having minimal minutes this upcoming season is the biggest weakness.
There are guys in the NBA that you see play that have glimpses here or there, and just cannot find the minutes on the floor where they can show their true talents and potential. I really hope this isn’t the case for Lee because I feel like there’s something there and it needs to be explored more this upcoming season.
One Key Factor
There are concerns about the defensive play of Devin Booker and Bradley Beal at the guard positions, so this is where Jordan Goodwin comes into play. Goodwin is the biggest factor in Lee getting playing time. The defense of Goodwin will help withstand a lot of stretches throughout the season when stops are needed.
Goodwin seems like a better mate next to Booker or Beal, providing defense, but there is a world where Lee can steal minutes from Goodwin if Lee’s play noticeably improves from last year.
It’s a good problem to have, and I believe that Lee will provide high-quality minutes, but he might be outplayed by Goodwin who is a solid defender.
As much as I would like Lee to play all the backup point guard minutes, the season will start with Lee getting very minimal minutes.
There is so much talent on this Suns team, but what is missing is a true playmaker off the bench. I don’t believe Lee is a starting caliber point guard but he has it in him to be a solid backup and the playmaker the Suns need.
I truly believe we will see an improved player who already has confidence in himself to get the job done. He has the high IQ, and that can only lead him to bigger and better things in the NBA, if the Suns don’t give him his shot.
But! He will remain a Sun and by the end of the season, Lee will be the most surprising player on this roster. He will earn more minutes towards the end of the season and even more valuable minutes in the playoffs.
IF the Suns make the playoffs. Right?