Welcome to Salt Lake City, Saben Lee.
In a trade that very few around the NBA expected, the Jazz sent second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for center/forward Kelly Olynyk, guard Saben Lee and cash considerations.
Among that group is Lee, a former second round pick in the 2020 NBA draft who’s now returning to where it all began — sort of.
Here are five things to know about the athletic and quick guard, Lee:
1.) Late-Bloomer In High School
Most NBA players have the makings of being stars early in their respective athletic careers. From the moment they walk into the high school gym, coaches and players know who they are and what they can do.
For Lee, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
He went from being a backup guard as a sophomore to a first-team All-State member as a junior — an extremely impressive jump. After averaging 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game, he committed to Vanderbilt following his junior season.
2.) Rising Star At Vanderbilt
Unlike in high school, Lee arrived at Vanderbilt and made an immediate impact.
As a three-star prospect, he earned the starting point guard spot right away and put up 10.6 points, 3.1 assists, and a team-leading 1.2 steals per game. After similar numbers as a sophomore, he broke out the following season as a junior.
With Darius Garland (Cleveland Cavaliers) off to the NBA, Lee took over the Commodores and averaged 18.6 points, 4.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. His breakout game came against Alabama when he finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, and five assists — all while going against elite NBA defender Herb Jones (New Orleans).
Lee was named second-team All-SEC and then declared for the NBA draft.
3.) Coming Home
Although Lee spent the first two years of his NBA career in Detroit, it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Jazz.
He was originally drafted by Utah with the No. 38 pick in the 2020 draft but was traded to Detroit as the Jazz recouped Elijah Hughes in return.
While it’s a near-lock that Lee would’ve been drafted regardless of Utah, it’s a full-circle moment for the third-year player to return to the team that initially called his name.
4.) Strong Finish To Second Season
With the Pistons firmly out of the playoff picture last season, it allowed Lee to showcase his skills towards the end of the year.
Over the final three games, he took advantage of the opportunity by averaging 11.0 points, 8.0 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per game.
While it was just a small sample size, it was proof of Lee’s growth throughout his first two years in the league and how he’s beginning to scratch the surface of his immense potential.
5.) Athletic Lineage
After entering the NBA as one of the most explosive and impressive athletes in the 2020 draft class, Lee has more than lived up to that billing. But it is no surprise considering the remarkable athleticism in his family genes.
Lee’s father, Amp, is a Super Bowl-winning running back with the then-St. Louis Rams. After starring at Florida State, Amp played in the NFL for nine seasons, which included catching Joe Montana’s final TD pass.
Lee’s cousin is Trent Forrest, a former Utah Jazz guard.