Detroit Pistons: Time for point guard Saben Lee?

Vanderbilt guard Saben Lee (0) drives down the court .Sec Tourney Vanderbilt Arkansas Bp Jpg
Vanderbilt guard Saben Lee (0) drives down the court .Sec Tourney Vanderbilt Arkansas Bp Jpg /

With Killian Hayes possibly out for a while with a labral tear in his hip, is it time for the Detroit Pistons to give rookie Saben Lee a try at the point guard?

(UPDATED 9:46 A.M. to reflect report of Hayes being diagnosed with labral tear.)

While the Detroit Pistons three first-round NBA Draft selections have all been getting playing time, its lone second rounder, Saben Lee, has been biding his time on the bench.

The time for him to make his impact on the Detroit Pistons might be coming.

In Monday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, rookie starting point guard Killian Hayes went down with a hip injury. Pistons coach Dwane Casey said after the game, that Lee will be among those he is looking to get playing time, according to Omari Sankofa of the Free Press.

"“… At some point we’re going to look at Saben Lee, at some point we’re going to look at Frank Jackson to give them a look, to get them some experience.”"

Hayes’ injury looked bad at the time. He grabbed his thigh after going down with no contact. However, it is merely a strained hip, so he will not be out long term.

Lee, as well as the recently signed Jackson, are on two-way contracts, meaning they are suppose to split their time between the G-League and NBA. They can play up to 50 games for the Pistons before they would have to be offered a regular NBA contract.

In a normal situation (and we know the current landscape is anything but), Lee would in Grand Rapids, playing for the Drive in the G-League, and gaining lots of experience.

However, the G-League has not finalized plans for any kind of a season yet. There has been talk of a bubble in Orlando but Detroit has, reportedly, said they are not interested in entering a team there.

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Lee is a 6-foot-2, 183-pound guard. The Vanderbilt junior was the 38th overall pick (eighth pick in the second round) by the Utah Jazz, who then sent his rights to Detroit for cash.

While some mock drafts did not have Lee even getting drafted, Detroit let it be known afterwards they had a first round grade on him.

Lee did get time in three of the Pistons preseason games. Not only time, but he was the point guard at the end of most games.

Although known as a score-first (18.2 points average last year for Vanderbilt) point guard in college, Lee did not really push himself on offense in those games. He only took one shot in 20 minutes of playing time.

Lee did get to the foul line a lot, although he only made three of eight free throws. That was also unlike him, as he sank 75% of his foul shots in college. You can probably chalk it up to nerves.

What was impressive in the preseason was his speed and sure handle of the ball. Most of the time Lee was in there, the other team was in a full-court press. Lee was able to break the pressure with no help, using his quickness and 6-foot-9 wingspan, to get past defenders.

If Hayes is out for a while, Casey has a few options to take his spot in the starting lineup. He could move Derrick Rose into the starting five or bring back former starter Delon Wright, who replaced Hayes when he left Monday’s game with the hip injury.

Casey has done a nice job of mixing in the youngsters while remaining competitive in games. Despite a 1-6 record, Detroit has not been blown out of a game. It’s biggest margin of defeat has been only 10 points.

If Lee does see some action against the Bucks, it will be interesting to see where in the rotation Casey slots him.

Would he start Lee?

In that way he could keep the rest of his sub rotation the same. Casey has talked about the value of Hayes being thrown into the starting lineup as a learning experience. Of course, starting No. 7 overall draft pick compared to Lee being No. 38, might make a difference.

The Bucks start two all-star guards in Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. It certainly would be a learning experience for Lee, if he had to go against those two.

If Lee comes off the bench, and was paired with Rose, how much can be learned from it, as Rose will be the main ballhandler.

Lee and his usage, if he gets in, is certainly one of the more intriguing storylines for the Milwaukee game.

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If the Pistons organization truly considers Saben Lee to be a first round talent, since all the first rounders have already seen lots of action, it is definitely time for Lee to take his turn on the court.