Detroit Pistons: Is Saben Lee establishing himself as the PG of the future?

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

It’s far too early to make this claim, but there is a chance Detroit Pistons second-round draft pick Saben Lee outplays Killian Hayes, the seventh overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft?

Sometimes a player just needs an opportunity.  That certainly can be used to describe Detroit Pistons rookie point guard Saben Lee.

The Detroit Pistons used the 38th overall pick on Lee in this past NBA Draft.  Lee had been buried on Detroit’s depth chart to start the year behind the seventh overall pick Killian Hayes, a former league MVP in Derrick Rose, along with Delon Wright and even Frank Jackson.

It’s a group that seemed to thin out fairly quickly into the 2020-21 season with Hayes’ torn labrum in his right hip that will sideline the lottery pick for most of his rookie campaign if not all.  The rebuilding Detroit Pistons agreed to send Rose back to New York to reunite for the third time with his beloved coach Tom Thibodeau.

More from Detroit Jock City

In that deal, Pistons’ general manager, Troy Weaver, did receive another reclamation project in return, adding point guard Dennis Smith Jr.  Since the deal, Wright, the teams’ starting point guard since the Hayes injury also is expected to be out a couple of weeks with a groin strain.

Saben Lee is making the most of his opportunity with the Detroit Pistons.

By default, the Detroit Pistons have been forced to start Smith Jr. and Lee now follows him.  If you rewind a few weeks, most of the chatter had actually been surrounding Jackson, not Saben Lee.

Now it’s become clear that Lee is the preferred point guard off of head coach Dwane Casey’s bench on the heels of three straight impressive outings.

Before the Wright injury, Lee appeared late in eight total games averaging just 8.7 minutes, averaging a mere 2.3 points and one assist per game while shooting almost 36% from the field without making a three.

Since the Wright injury, Lee has been nothing short of spectacular in three-straight games.  The 21-year old guard played over 32 minutes in Orlando, scoring 12 points, adding five assists and four boards.

Lee, who is on a two-way deal, followed that up with a stellar performance again in Orlando, scoring 21 points, four assists, and three rebounds, all while converting on nearly 73% of his shots from the field, plus going three-for-three from long range beyond the arc.

That second game in Orlando put Lee’s name on the radar but was it a fluke?

It doesn’t appear so.  Lee accompanied that performance with 13 points and four assists in 21 minutes of work in New Orleans Wednesday night, shooting 5-8 from the field and one-for-one from three-point range.

As Lee continues to impress with his quickness and athleticism at the point, one can’t help but wonder if he will manage to edge out Hayes for the starting role in the future.

Lee has continued to work on his shooting, and it’s become apparent that the work is paying off.  We’ve seen much more from Lee in the past three games than we did out of Hayes through the first seven games of the season.

Hayes averaged a mere 4.6 points, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 boards per game through seven games, playing just over 21 minutes a night and shooting an atrocious 27.7% from the field and 25% beyond the arc.

Wayne Ellington shooting his way into the trade market. dark. Next

It’s far too early to write-off Hayes, but like most of us, the Detroit Pistons should be thrilled with what they see out of Lee lately.