Welcome back to our ongoing series previewing the members of your 2023/2024 Phoenix Suns. Without further delay, here’s your look at:
Guard, 6’5” 210 pounds, 30-years old
Lee had a productive regular season for the Suns initially. In December and January, he averaged almost 10 points per game in about 23 minutes per game, shooting about 45% from downtown. But as the season began to wind down, so did Lee’s minutes, as he averaged 19 minutes in February and just 11 in March. He still finished the season respectably, averaging 8 points 3 rebounds and about 1 assist per game in about 20 minutes played.
He played poorly in the postseason, even in his paltry 11 minutes per game, shooting just 30% from the floor and averaging just 2 points per game across the Suns’ 8 playoff contests.
Over the summer, Lee signed a two-year deal with the Suns worth close to $5.4 million, with the second year being a player option.
Damion Lee is a shooter. That’s his calling card, and it’s basically his only high level NBA skill. His career 38% shooting from three point range might not really jump out at you as an impressive figure...and that’s part of why he’s a journeyman. He hasn’t been entirely consistent in this sniper role. He just barely missed 40% from deep in two different seasons with the Golden State Warriors, but his rounded 45% from deep last season with the Suns was his best showing of his career.
In terms of his less tangible skills, Lee seems to have a reputation as a good teammate and positive personality on the bench and in the locker room. He has a championship on his resume as a member of the 2021/2022 Warriors, so he brings that winning experience to the table. Relive his epic career game from last season below.
Lee just doesn’t do a heck of a lot else well to justify his time on the court if he’s not shooting the lights out. He’s not a very good playmaker for a guard, and he doesn’t possess a wide array of moves to create his own basket opportunities. He’s basically a fairly limited catch and shoot marksman on offense.
While he’s a willing participant in the defense, he lacks the quicks to stay with smaller guards and isn’t quite big or physical enough to be a good matchup on many NBA wings and this is probably a major part of why his playing time fell off sharply late last season.
One Key Factor
A key factor in determining the season Damion Lee has this year will be the way other Suns play. He’s on such a cheap deal that it’s hard to imagine the Suns view him as much more than an insurance depth/locker room chemistry piece. If Josh Okogie doesn’t play well, Lee will see his playing time increased. If Okogie improves meaningfully as a shooter over last season, I could see Lee’s role being pretty limited. He doesn’t entirely fit into the vision of a tough, physical unit that new Suns head coach Frank Vogel has articulated.
He’ll surely get some time on the floor regardless, but if he wants to maximize that then he needs to really knock down his triples when he is out there.
Much like last season, Lee will play well within a fairly limited role. He’ll have a couple of games where he’s a hero, hitting 4 or 5 threes and leading Suns bench scorers, and he will have some very forgettable ones too where he barely shows up on the stat sheet in 12 minutes played. He will tally a decent number of DNP-CDs, too.
But I predict that by the end of this season, most Suns fans will be reasonably pleased with how Lee performed relative to his expectations and the fact that in 2024 he is making less than $3 million in the NBA. It’s not particularly reasonable to ask a guy on a dirt cheap relatively short-term deal to give you a heck of a lot more than steady performances in limited time, and there’s no reason to think Lee won’t provide that again this season.