Every year there is at least one player who makes a mind-boggling decision to leave college and enter the NBA Draft despite being woefully unprepared for the next level. We now have this year’s winner for dumbest NBA Draft decision.
UCLA guard Malcolm Lee has decided to forgo his senior year and make himself eligible for the draft. Originally Lee was only exploring his options, but word came down yesterday that he has hired an agent and the decision is final. UCLA coach Ben Howland reportedly advised Lee to stay in school, but the 6’5 guard didn’t listen.
Howland had this to say:
“In my opinion, I thought that would’ve been in his best interest (to stay). I shared that with both Malcolm and his family, and they appreciated me saying that. I’m saying what’s best for him. Obviously it’s what’s best for UCLA basketball. But I honestly in my heart really believed, with all the factors, I thought that was in his best interest.”
So why is this such a big deal? Well, Lee currently sits at No. 73 on Chad Ford’s draft board in an awfully weak class. Additionally he’s the 12th ranked point guard. He projects as a mid-second round pick at best.
Lee is long and athletic, and has great size for a point guard. He can even play a little shooting guard, and has great speed and is excellent in transition. He’s also a phenomenal perimeter defender. The problem is, he’s not a pure point guard and would likely be more comfortable playing off the ball. If he wasn’t playing the point, that would negate the size advantage he has. On top of that, he isn’t very strong, doesn’t have a consistent jump shot and doesn’t make great decisions with the ball.
Let me sum that last paragraph up in brief, Malcolm Lee: Physical skills? Yes. Basketball skills? No.
Basically, another year developing his offensive game would serve Lee about as well as any player in the country. And he turned down that opportunity to enter the draft and an uncertain future.
This year Lee averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 33.1 minutes per game. He also shot just 43.7 percent from the field and 29.5 percent from 3-point range. As a sophomore Lee averaged 12.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 34.8 minutes per game. So as a junior Lee’s minutes, rebounds and assists were all down. And he decided that was the best time to enter the NBA Draft.
I don’t want to say anything negative about the young man and the people around him but, I mean, really?