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NBA Draft scouting report: Hyunjung Lee

Davidson’s sharp shooter looks to become second South Korean player picked

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Michigan State vs Davidson
Hyunjung Lee averaged 15.8 points this season as a junior for Davidson, which won the Atlantic 10 regular season championship.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

With multiple conference championships and NCAA Tournament berths, Davidson basketball hasn’t stopped in the post-Stephen Curry era.

However, since Curry, the Wildcats have not had a player selected in an NBA Draft. This is a streak Hyungjung Lee is hoping to end Thursday evening. If Lee is selected in the 2022 NBA Draft, it would represent a meaningful achievement and momentum boost for Davidson basketball.

But that’s not the only drought Lee is looking to break. Only one other player from Lee’s home country of South Korea has ever been chosen in an NBA Draft. Ha Seung-jin was chosen in the second round of the 2004 Draft. Jin received spot minutes for the Portland Trail Blazers for two seasons, and then his NBA career quickly came to an end.

Even if Lee isn’t selected, he’ll become a priority free agent with a strong chance to eventually play in the NBA. If and when Lee steps onto an NBA floor, he’ll be only the second South Korean to ever appear in an NBA game.

Lee is coming off a standout junior campaign at Davidson, in which he averaged 15.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per matchup while shooting 47.4% from the floor and 38.1% from beyond the arc.

Measurements

Height: 6 feet 7 inches

Weight: 210 pounds

Strengths:

shooting range, rebounding for a wing

Lee fits one of modern NBA’s most sought after archetypes as a wing with a quick trigger that can hit shots from anywhere on the floor. It’s difficult to find many prospects in this draft that have a more aesthetically-pleasing shooting stroke than Lee. His shot features a high and quick release, which allows him to convert even when facing astute defenders.

From the moment Lee stepped foot on Davidson’s campus, his ability to shoot it from deep established him as a meaningful contributor for the Wildcats. Over the span of three seasons, Lee attempted 436 3-pointers and converted on 39.7% of them.

Not only is Lee one of the draft’s most elite shooting talents, he’s also very articulate and intelligent when it comes to finding looks for himself. When working off screens, Lee is prolific and finished second in the nation in points off of screens as a junior. In addition to being a sniper from beyond the arc, Lee is also more than capable when it comes to using his lethal shooting form to score from midrange.

While Lee’s most appetizing quality is his shooting, he also steadily improved as a rebounder throughout his three seasons in college. As a junior, Lee was Davidson’s second-leading rebounder with six boards per contest. Lee’s feel for the game is improving and evolving. His basketball I.Q. stands out on film, showing some promising playmaking ability as a distributor.

Areas to improve:

explosiveness, defense

One of the greatest redflags teams will have when evaluating Lee is his lack of dynamic athleticism. Teams drool over players that have freaky athletic profiles and untapped potential. Unfortunately, Lee lacks the explosive athletic traits teams drool over. When watching Lee’s film, he doesn’t demonstrate an explosive first step that can be used to blow by defenders. Because of these factors, Lee could have a difficult time creating his looks in the NBA.

Not only could Lee have a difficult time beating NBA defenders off the dribble, he’s also yet to consistently prove he can finish at the rim. Teams may just have to accept that that part of Lee’s game may not be coming anytime soon.

Teams are also concerned that Lee’s less-than-impressive athleticism and lateral quickness will cause him to become a defensive liability. It’s well understood that there is a place in the league for players that can hit the three and play high-level defense. The former shouldn’t be a problem, but Lee’s path to finding a role in the NBA becomes considerably more difficult if he struggles defensively. Lee frequently struggled on the defensive end when matched up with athletic and explosive players.

While this may seem a bit picky, Lee can appear passive at times. He was the catalyst for Davidson basketball and one of the most talented players in the A-10 Conference. It’s almost as if he sometimes didn’t realize this, and it wasn’t often that he demonstrated a tenacious mentality to take over a game like he was capable of doing. Lee shot a disappointing 5-for-20 from the field combined in losses in the A-10 Championship to Richmond and Round of 64 to Michigan State.

Additionally, just a few days ago it was reported that Lee suffered a foot injury while practicing, but we still don’t know the severity of it, as of June 20.

Projected draft range: second round pick/undrafted free agent

It would be fair to say that Lee is facing an uphill battle regarding his chances to carve out a long-term career in the league. The red flags are rather significant, and in the wake of his recent injury, it would likely be a bit of a surprise if Lee hears his name called Thursday night. That certainly doesn’t mean his NBA dreams are dead. Players such as Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson and Joe Ingles, are all examples of players who went undrafted but currently find themselves playing meaningful minutes on playoff teams. All three of these players also boasted the ability to shoot the rock at a high level. If Lee can figure out how to at least be an average defender, he could prove to be one of the draft’s greatest steals as his shot feels like a sure bet to translate.