After signing his second 10-day contract with the Atlanta Hawks this week, Damion Lee is well on his way to earning a permanent spot on an NBA roster as he continues to impress the Atlanta front office.
Lee has been given every chance to secure a contract with the Hawks giving him the opportunity to play in excess of 20 minutes per night, in which he’s been averaging 10.4 points and been named in the starting line-up for 3 of his 5 games.
On Friday night Lee walked onto the hardwood of Oracle Arena where he would be taking on the defending champion Golden State Warriors, and his cousin – Warriors superstar Stephen Curry.
After putting up a valiant fight throughout the game, Lee’s Hawks couldn’t stay with Golden State in the final term as the Warriors hung on for the win.
In the locker room post game, Lee told us that he’s been adjusting quickly to the NBA schedule and how sticking to his game – which caught the eyes of the Hawks scouts as he played for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G-League this season, has been his plan.
“it’s different, especially coming from the G-League and getting called up, but I just try to take everything in my stride. Go out there, play confident, be aggressive, do what got me here are keep trying to impress and stay consistent”
Over the past few years we have seen the G-League develop with more players finding their way onto NBA rosters more regularly. For Lee, the hardest part about making the jump from the G-League to the NBA is being able to react faster, and complete against a much higher calibre of player.
“Picking up on the plays quicker. Everything in the NBA is a reaction. In the G-League you can time things and plan things.” Lee continues, “Up here it’s read, react, play – and of course the athleticism, these guys are 7 footers with 40-inch verticals. Guys like that, and playing against amazing players night in night out – there’s no nights off in the NBA.”
Joining a team with such a young roster can be challenging but having the right support network of coaches and players can be the difference between making a successful leap to the NBA. In Atlanta, Lee – and his young team mates, have got the support they need.
“Us young guys are really just trying to listen to the older guys, the coaches, guys who have been in these situations just trying to learn through them – and also just trying to learn through our own experiences as well.” Says Lee.
As the Atlanta Hawks season is drawing to a close, the future looks bright as the organization is set to have several first round draft picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. While we have all been sitting back and watching the best young players in the country compete in March Madness, Lee who was a member of the Louisville Cardinals in 2015-16 has some sage advice for all of the young players coming out of the tournament and looking to take the next step towards a professional basketball career.
“The main thing is just to believe in yourself, and do what you do whatever your role is.” Lee continues, “If your role is to play defense; play defense. Teams have guys that they pay to score, that they pay to play defense, that they pay to rebound.”
“It’s a matter of knowing your role, accepting it, and going out an executing it.”
Feature Image: Clutch Points
Story Image: USA Today