As a part of our ongoing NBA Draft coverage, I wanted to see as many potential draft prospects in person as possible before the end of the season. The Atlantic 10 men’s basketball tournament, which is going on at Capital One Arena, features several players who are likely to go in the second round of the 2022 NBA draft. I wrote about Saint Joseph’s forward Jordan Hall earlier in the week and covered him in-depth for this week’s Prospect Profile on the Bleav in Wizards podcast.
Hyunjung Lee, a 6’7 wing from Davidson, is another intriguing player in the field this week. His Davidson Wildcats are the top seed in the tournament and Lee’s shooting is a major reason why. For the season, Lee is averaging 16.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. He’s a 38.4 percent three-point shooter with an effortless stroke and quick release.
In Friday’s 74-56 win over Fordham, Lee had 11 points (4-of-7 from the field, 1-of-1 from three) and 8 rebounds. Unfortunately, it was the best game to evaluate his full offensive arsenal as Davidson rolled to a relatively easy win. He did, however, show off some nice touch on a few floaters and a Dirk Nowitzki-esque one-legged fadeaway jumper from the midrange.
Lee also finished on an acrobatic drive for an and-one basket. Even though he only took one three, you could see he doesn’t need much space to get his shot off and his quick-release. He’s good pulling up or in catch-and-shoot situations and handles well enough to attack close-outs. Additionally, he’s a solid passer who knows when, and where, to move the ball. At times Davidson might actually be better off if he were more assertive.
His current lack of strength and less-than-stellar athleticism wibe the biggest question marks for NBA general managers. At this point, he doesn’t seem like he could guard stronger NBA small forwards and it would limit his upside if he can only play the shooting guard spot. At least in this particular match-up, he showed good defensive instincts and rotated well as a help defender. His understanding of team defense might help mitigate some of the physical limitations.
The Wizards’ second-round pick is likely to be somewhere around 50 and that seems like a reasonable range to me. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie, who I really respect, currently has Lee at 34 on his big board. If the Wizards were able to get him a dozen spots lower than that, it would be worth strong consideration for a team that has struggled to shoot from the perimeter for most of the year. Ideally, I would prefer wings to be more in the “3-and-D” mold but, ultimately, at that point in the draft, you can’t be too picky.
It is also worth noting that Lee would only be the second Korean-born player to ever play in the NBA if he makes the jump and gets on an opening day roster next season. Ha Seung-Jin* played parts of two seasons for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2004-06. Also, the DMV, in particular Fairfax County, Va., is home to the third-largest Korean American community in the United States. This could help Lee feel at home more easily.
*Like most East Asian languages, surnames in Korean are generally written out before their first names. While most Koreans living abroad use the westernized “Given name, Surname” format of their names while in the USA or Europe (like Lee, Mystics guard Lee-Seul Kang or former MLB outfielder Shin-Soo Choo), some prefer the traditional Korean way like Ha apparently in this case.
Bonus: Keep an eye on DaRon Holmes II!
I’m not going to dedicate an entire article to him because he seems likely to return to college next year. But Dayton center DaRon Holmes II was really impressive Friday night against Massachusetts. Holmes, a 6-10 freshman, averaged 11.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks for the season. Holmes is tall, athletic, and runs the floor hard. All good traits to have at the center position.
Against UMass, Holmes had 28 points (12-of-15 shooting), 5 rebounds, and 1 assist. He was largely unguardable, scoring off jump-hooks with both hands and rim-running. With another year of polish and time to develop some semblance of a jumpshot, I could see Holmes being a really intriguing prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft. Some sort of All-American consideration may not be out of the question either.