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The UCLA Factor For Basketball Players Lee and Honeycutt

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Two UCLA Bruins will get drafted tonight in the NBA draft.  Both will be helped by the growing "UCLA Factor."  Seemingly everyone agrees that UCLA players make good to great pros.  Both Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee definitely bettered themselves by coming to UCLA and learning more about Basketball. 

What could help both is the much-discussed "UCLA Factor" that is making its round through basketball circles.

The success of lightly touted Bruins in the pros - including Jrue Holliday, Darren Collison, Russell Westbrook, Arron Afflalo and Luc Mbah-a-Moute - has trickled down to Lee and Honeycutt. All five have been valuable starters for playoff teams, but only Westbrook was a lottery pick, and even his ascendancy to the top crop of NBA point guards was unforeseen.

"Being able to be controlled on offense, not really take unnecessary shots, letting plays develop - I think that's what gives UCLA the edge," Lee said. "At UCLA, we have the opportunity to execute plays. When we get into the NBA, we execute a lot better and the floor is a lot more spread."

More after the jump.

Let's delve into Malcolm Lee, first on the UCLA factor:

UCLA's Malcolm Lee is another player who fits that mold and is also one of the best perimeter defenders in this class.  

For those who remember his struggles at Point Guard, I point you to Russell Westbrook first game as a PG at West Virginia.  Westbrook was not bad, he was awful and cost us the game.  Also Lee like Westbrook was a premiere defender in college.  Of course, Westbrook was one of a kind but I find these kind of statements acceptable hyperbole.

Malcolm Lee: "I think he'll have some work to do, but UCLA guards seem to find a way. Malcolm plays a lot like Russell Westbrook. They have an attack mentality at all times, they get in the creases. When they get in the paint, they don't dodge, they try to go through you. Just really aggressive. And then defensively, he's really good at moving his feet laterally and he can guard the 1 or the 2 very well." (Video)

As we wrote the Jazz loved Lee.  Malcolm has done himself a service by being worked out by just about every team that showed an interest.  Malcolm's hard work is paying off with draft predications from the unlikely 12 spot to 35. 

UCLA's Malcolm Lee was a player we had locked in the late 40's in January but after a strong run through the NBA Draft workout process Lee's name has steadily climbed. His range could be as high as #12 to Utah. He was said to have blown the Jazz away in his workout, however #12 is a huge reach for Lee. The 76ers at #16 are high on Lee because of his versatility. The Wizards at #18 are high on Malcolm as are the Nets and the Timberwolves. Lee is not a first round lock yet, but considering where his stock started in the process he should be off the board before the 35th pick and that's a nice run up for the 6'5 guard from UCLA.

Many were upset at Lee for leaving early and concerned he made a mistake, especially in light of his knee injury.  However, Malcolm seems to be doing great physically and seems to be the impressive kid that made him the leader and MVP of last year's UCLA team.  I have a feeling Lee will find a place at the next level. 

Which brings me to Tyler Honeycutt.  It was an open secret Tyler was not going to stay after his Sophomore year.  Some even said he was not trying hard because he did not want to risk getting hurt.  Some of what is being said about him is . . . interesting.   

Defensively, is where he can make his living at the next level.  Tyler has a great basketball IQ, solid lateral quickness, and a great wingspan.   He should be able to defend the two or the three effectively. 

He averaged nearly seven rebounds, two blocks, and a steal a game which shows his versatility and activity level.  He can defend multiple positions and play with a high motor.  Adding strength would address his major defensive weakness of fighting through screens, but he has a lot of potential on the defensive end.

 It cracks me up that a number of draft previews have lines like this on:

 "25. Boston Celtics:  Tyler Honeycutt, small forward, UCLA. A tall, lean defender. . ."


I do not think defense was his strength last year and he is benefiting from CBH's reputation.  However, if I want to be charitable it is impressive to lead a conference in shot blocking from the small forward position. 

That is not the most ridiculious thing said about Tyler.  The worst was by the Nets GM comparing him to Reggie Miller:

He's very athletic," King said of Honeycutt, who was a star volleyball player in high school and credits that with helping him develop his leaping ability and shot-blocking skills. "He had some very good games in college. He didn't shoot the ball well here today, but he's athletic. His body's a little frail (6-8, 188), but there was another guy from UCLA, back in '87, who had a frail body that lasted 18 years - Reggie Miller."

It wasn't the first time someone had compared Honeycutt to Miller, the former Indiana Pacers great who retired as the most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history, holding that distinction until Ray Allen broke his record for 3-pointers this season. The folks in Indiana brought Miller's name up after Honeycutt had perhaps his best showing of the pre-draft workout circuit there.

"It's a great player to be compared to," said Honeycutt, who has never met Miller. "His name speaks for itself, what he's done."

Having seen most of Reggie's UCLA games there is no comparison there.  A better review of Tyler is here

Tyler Honeycutt:  "He has a tremendous amount of potential. He's tall, he's long, he's comfortable shooting it out to 3, but he's got to stay engaged, he's got to stay with it. He can guard multiple positions. He can be one of those Nicolas Batum guys for the Blazers, someone who can harass a point guard or chase around a shooter as well as a defend a guy like Kevin Durant because of his length." (Video)   

I think Tyler's issue is "staying engaged."  Unlike Lee, I think he underachieved last year because again unlike Lee he was guilty of not giving 100%  all the time.  He has been picked anywhere from 13 to late in the first round. 

Let me conclude with this note from a typical Lee workout.  On the high end for Malcolm Lee is the following argument from the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 20th pick who are definitely interested in Lee after a strong workout:

FIVE FOR 20. . . 5. Malcolm Lee, UCLA sophomore: Another 6-5 combo guard, he's projected as a second-round pick. But remember this: Ben Howland's UCLA teams have a way of producing players who are better pros than anybody imagined. Think Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, Luc Mbah a Moute.

I hope Honeycutt and Lee add to that tradition.  Regardless both on draft day and their careers will be in part owed to the UCLA Factor