3 Reasons the Suns kept Lee over Washington as back-up point guard

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JANUARY 24: (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JANUARY 24: (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /
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Saben Lee #38 of the Phoenix Suns
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JANUARY 24: (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

3 Reasons Lee is a better fit for Phoenix right now

Neither player jumps out at you in the numbers, with Washington averaging almost 8 points and two assists per game and Lee coming in at just over six points and nearly three assists per contest. Both players are young and willing to attack the basket, something the Suns need, but in their games, Lee has a few more things they need.

Reason 1: Lee is a better, more efficient shooter than Washington

Averaging almost eight points versus just over six per game sounds like Washington should be the one for a Suns team that has needed scoring a lot this season. However, with Paul and Johnson both back and Booker nearing a return, scoring is not necessarily the Suns’ most significant need.

Further, if you look at how the two players score, you realize Lee fits the current roster better. Washington gets his points from volume, averaging more than eight field goal attempts per game in about 13 minutes. While shooting just 36.7% on the season, one could say Washington shot his way out of a roll.

Alternatively, Lee is taking fewer shots – just 4.2 per game – making a lot more at 46.3% and doing it in more minutes per night. In other words, Lee is picking and choosing his chances and doing it well.

Reason 2: Saban gets to the charity stripe better than Washington

With Phoenix, there is no shortage of players willing to take three-point shots, and you could count Washington among them, averaging 3.6 attempts per game; Lee is a bit more hesitant from deep. Lee averages one attempt per night, but what he does with the ball more is attack the basket and draw fouls.

Lee averages three free throw attempts per game, which may not seem like a lot, but he is tied for third-most on the team with Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Only Paul and Booker average more free throws per game than Lee at 3.2 and 6.2, respectively. Alternatively, when he was let go, Washington averaged less than one free throw attempt per contest.

Putting pressure on the other team’s defense by getting into the lane and attacking the basket is something the Suns need more of, and Lee brings it.

Reason 3: Lee protects the basketball better than Washington

Maybe it was an artifact of trying to do too much, which is also likely why Washington shot so much, but his turnovers were a problem. Although he technically averages fewer turnovers than Lee 1.1 to 1.2, Washington was playing more minutes and had six games with at least three turnovers; Lee has only had one.

Alternative to the turnover is the assists, and with a nearly 3 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio versus a 2 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio, Lee makes more sense for this team right now. With Johnson back, Bridges shooting well, and Booker soon to return, having someone – besides CP3 – to set up players for shots and get the offense moving is essential, and Lee does it a little better.

Neither Lee nor Washington are likely to change the dynamics of the team; however, with Payne still out and more weapons back in the fold, a pass-first as opposed to a shoot-first point guard is what the Suns need behind Paul, and is why Lee is still in Phoenix and Washington is looking for his next chance.

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