Boston Celtics: Malcolm Lee
After headlining the Celtics' five-player pre-draft workout on Saturday, we take a look at UCLA point guard Malcolm Lee, who averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2 assists per game as a junior this past season. From ESPN's player evaluation:
Positives: Long and athletic... Great size for his position... Can play both the point and the two... Great speed, excellent in transition... Elite perimeter defender
Negative: Lacks strength... A bit of a tweener, seems more comfortable at the 2... Inconsistent jumper... Questionable basketball IQ
Ford's analysis: For the past two preseasons, scouts have had him as mid-first-rounder, but his play during the season has disappointed. Lee is quick, has great size for his position, and has become a lockdown defender. But his lack of a jumpshot, poor game management and overall lack of success the past two seasons at UCLA have puzzled scouts.
In the news: More from ESPN.com's Chad Ford: "[Lee is] long, explosive athletically, very quick laterally and made a lot of very good decisions with the ball in 3-on-3 play [at a May draft workout]. His jump shot is still coming along but the rest of the game looked to be there. The NBA loves big point guards and I think Lee will ultimately be a point guard in the league. I could see him sneaking into the first round and possibly even challenging Darius Morris. Morris is more of a pure point, but Lee is a significantly better athlete."
Forsberg's take: If you're making a list of the Celtics' needs it's probably topped with athletic big man and perimeter scorer comes soon after. So why bring in Lee for a workout if he doesn't appear to fit an immediate need? The Celtics have never been shy about drafting the best available player instead of what fills an immediate need. Lee has a lot to like about him and the UCLA pedigree is intriguing. The question is whether Boston needs another defensive-minded tweener when they drafted that last year in Avery Bradley. Yes, Lee has more height and could project as a backup 2 instead of a point guard, but unless the Celtics were blown away by what they saw, it seems likely that they'll stay focused on more glaring needs. Getting a closer look at Lee also gives Boston a better idea of what the value of the No. 25 pick should others be hoping to wiggle up to that spot for a chance at him.
Also in town for the backcourt-heavy workout were UMass guard Anthony Gurley, Morehead State guard Demonte Harper, Georgetown guard Chris Wright and Indiana guard Jeremiah Rivers, the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Lee, a long guard at 6-foot-6, averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2 assists per game in his junior season at UCLA. He's got combo guard potential and Chad Ford's scouting report suggests he's actually more comfortable at the 2, but he's got an inconsistent jumper and shot only 29.5 percent from 3-point range last season.
So why the fuss about Lee? Allow Ford to explain: "What do Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo have in common? They were UCLA guards who didn't appear to be great NBA prospects at first glance (Westbrook may have been the exception, but not for everyone) who have gone on to have excellent careers in the NBA. All four were starters on playoff teams this season despite their youth. Here's a prediction: Lee will continue that hot streak for UCLA. Lee was a top-rated prospect coming out of high school but struggled to dominate in college. While he's earned a rep as an elite perimeter defender, his offensive game has been a work in progress."
Combo potential? Elite defender? Sounds a bit like Avery Bradley, but clearly the height makes Lee appealing for a team like Boston that's not necessarily looking for a pure point to back up Rajon Rondo.
None of the other players in town are likely to have their name called any earlier than late second round. Though it would have been interesting to see exactly how the Celtics worked out Rivers, who is no stranger to getting up some jumpers in the Celtics' practice facility.
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