Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/22/11
MINNEAPOLIS When guard Malcolm Lee left UCLA after his junior season, he was hoping to be chosen in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft.He wasn't.Instead, the Chicago Bulls took Lee in the second round (43rd overall) before trading him to the Minnesota Timberwolves."Everything happens for a reason," Lee said on falling in the draft. "Basically, since I got drafted in the second round, I was just trying to make a team and get a guarantee." Lee has done just that, signing a three-year contract earlier this month with the Timberwolves. He now joins fellow rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams, as well as Kevin Love, another former UCLA star, on a young Minnesota squad that is looking to build off its NBA-low 17 wins last season.As a junior with the Bruins last year, the 6-foot-5 Lee averaged 13.1 points, 2.0 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. He's already shown signs of translating his game to the NBA level, as he impressed in his second preseason game Wednesday against Milwaukee. Lee scored nine points and dished out five assists in 24 minutes in Minnesota's 85-84 win over the Bucks."We like him. He's played well throughout the whole camp," said Rick Adelman, in his first year as the Wolves' head coach. "He's a solid player. We think he's going to be a good player. I expect him to play well."Lee is a combo guard, capable of playing either the point or shooting guard. Minnesota also welcomed combo guard J.J. Barea this offseason and has a capable point guard in veteran Luke Ridnour. Big things are expected, meanwhile, from the 21-year-old Rubio, who finally joins the Wolves two years after they drafted him.If Lee doesn't play the point, he's capable of moving to the two-guard but he says he's a natural point guard."I feel more comfortable at the one, because I'm not really good at moving without the ball," Lee said. "But that's something I'm working on in practice, moving without the ball and stuff like that."The transition to the NBA from college has been a learning experience, Lee admits, but Minnesota's coaching staff has already been impressed with the rookie. Assistant coach Terry Porter, who played 17 seasons as a guard in the NBA, has worked a lot with Minnesota's group of guards during training camp.Porter noted Lee's ability to hold his own on the defensive side of the ball, a trait of many UCLA guards such as Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo."He does a lot of good things at the defensive end and gets into it. He's very physical. He's quick, explosive," Porter said of Lee. "There's a lot of guards from that generation that (UCLA coach) Ben Howland, he's turned into great players. The one quality they all have, they're tough as nails. They compete, and they get after it defensively."While Lee prides himself on defense, he's already shown his ability to score with the Wolves. In Wednesday's game, Lee drove to the hoop in the first half, faked a pass to a teammate to freeze the defenders, and went in for an easy layup."I feel like my offense is getting to the rim. Also, I can pull up," Lee said. "Basically, always on the attack whether it's straight up, transition or off the pick, I'm always on the attack."Lee finished the game 3-for-6 from the floor and 3-of-4 at the free throw line to finish with nine points."Offensively, he can get to the basket. He's shooting the ball well from the NBA three," Porter said of Lee. "The biggest challenge is just night in, night out, getting used to playing the point guard position."So as Lee adjusts to the NBA game and learns how to play point guard at the highest level, he also will have to make one more adjustment: dealing with Minnesota winters. Lee grew up in Riverside, Calif., and played college ball in sunny Los Angeles.So far, however, there hasn't been much snow in the Twin Cities. Lee takes credit for that, with an assist to fellow California native Williams."They must know the Cali boys are in town, me and D-Will," Lee said.
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