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Buzzworthy picks 2022: Hyunjung Lee

The Hornets could keep the Davidson product in North Carolina with their second-round pick.

Davidson v Michigan State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Following three years of shooting the lights out at nearby Davidson College including a 50-40-90 season as a junior, 2021-22 All-A-10 selection Hyunjung Lee is looking to become just the second South Korean player to ever be drafted into the NBA. He worked out for the Charlotte Hornets on June 8 with a cast of other candidates to be taken with the 45th pick.

Measurements

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 203.6 pounds

Wingspan: 6’9.75”

Standing reach: 8’7”

Vertical: 25.5” standing, 27” max

Pre-draft

Lee hails from Yongin City, South Korea, located not too far outside of Seoul. He played basketball there for his father at Samil Commercial School in Suwon, starred internationally in the youth ranks and earned an invitation to the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia in 2018.

He enrolled at Davidson as a three-star recruit in 2019, choosing the recently-retired Bob McKillop’s Wildcats over Washington State, where his basketball role model Klay Thompson played. Lee was the fourth player and second men’s player from South Korea to play NCAA Division I basketball.

Strengths: three-point shooting versatility, mid-range shooting

There’s a strong case to be made for Lee as the best overall shooter in the 2022 class. A career 39.7 percent (173-436) shooter from deep on an average of 5.2 attempts per game over his career, Lee has the ability to fly off of screens and take precise angles to get to his spots as an off-ball shooting threat, and he can sink all sorts of off-balance or contested shots as long as he gets the slightest bit of space.

Lee is 6-foot-8 with a wingspan nearly two inches longer than his height, affording him the luxury of being able to shoot over defenders without needing much time to load up and elevate into his jumper. His shot preparation and mechanics are impeccable in all types of shot situations including off curls, screens and/or pin-downs, keeping his feet underneath him and gently flicking the ball off his forehead no matter the situation.

Of the 221 NCAA Division I players with at least 11.6 three-point attempts per-100 possessions in the 2022 season per BartTorvik, Lee is 76th in overall percentage at 37.6 with 77 total makes, a fine mark for an elite volume shooter on the Atlantic 10 conference’s regular-season champion team. More interestingly for his NBA translation, Lee was ninth in two-point percentage among that same group of marksmen, shooting 58.4 percent from inside the arc on 173 field goal attempts. He was also 16th in free throw rate, indicating an increased ability to draw contact and generate fouls compared to other movement shooters in the class like Max Abmas and Tevin Brown.

Though he lacks the burst and speed to beat his defender from a standstill, he can effectively attack hard closeouts and create offense for himself in the mid-range or going to the basket. His off-screen shooting applies to the mid-range as well — he’s excellent at making sharpe, decisive cuts during after timeout plays to get to his free-throw line jumper. In the clip below, he utilizes a solid fake and nifty footwork to get his defender in the air and finish with a nice touch shot.

If given the opportunity as an NBA reserve to fire away without hesitation, Lee has a strong chance to be a dynamic floor-spacing threat in the league. There simply aren’t many low-usage, high three-point attempt volume 6-foot-8 wings that can shoot as efficiently as he can from long-range.

Areas to improve: connective playmaking, defensive awareness

Like all off-ball shooters, the ability to utilize shooting gravity and draw defenses out into space, attack a defender, cause rotation and execute the correct passing read against a bent defense is going to be critical for Lee, as he’ll need to offer something besides shooting to be a reliable rotation player. Though not much of a playmaker, he’s flashed some decent vision hitting the screener out of actions when his shot isn’t there.

The biggest red flag with Lee, and it has an affect on ever facet of his game, is significantly limited lateral mobility and explosiveness. He was the slowest non-big man at the G League Elite Camp this year, had the lowest max vertical and did not excel in the lane shuttle drills. Great off-ball instincts as a shooter make up for those limitations offensively, but he’s got a long ways to go in terms of awareness in help/rotation and screen coverages. It’s hard to simply as a player to become “more athletic,” but I think there’s reasonable hope that he can translate some of his feel for the game on offense to defense with the help of an NBA staff.

Overview

Lee compares both favorably and unfavorably to Duncan Robinson, another elite movement shooter with marksmanship from deep range, some ability to punish a hard closeout and real struggles with lateral quickness and general feel on the defensive end of the floor. It doesn’t help for a borderline draftee to suffer a lower body injury so close to draft night, but an article published by NBA.com on the evening of June 17, hours after the injury news broke, indicates it’s possible Lee still hears his name called. Regardless, I’d expect him to get a Two-Way or Exhibit 10 deal if he goes undrafted.

Lee could very well end up as the best NBA shooter from the class of 2022 if his mobility and athletic limitations don’t drag him down too much as a ball-handler and on the defensive end. Personally, I’d be fine with a team giving him a guaranteed roster spot and shuffling him back and forth between the NBA and G League as a shooting specialist, and he’s more than worth taking one of the open Two-Way contract slots if the Hornets choose to go that route. Bet on shooting.