When the 2013 NBA Draft kicked off, the expectation was that Ben McLemore wouldn’t be available when the Kings seventh selection rolled around. A likely top five pick, McLemore began to slip with some rather odd choices in the top three allowing the Jayhawk to ‘fall’ to Sacramento, a shock to many. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the type of rookie season many expected but that doesn’t mean anybody is bullish on his long term prognosis.
I wrote heavily about McLemore and preseason expectations last month. While it was easy to get caught up in the preseason hype, McLemore proved to be a raw rookie who was forced into too big a role, too early. That said, I’m still very confident that McLemore will develop into a starting caliber SG for the Kings, and his excellent run to end the season buoyed that optimism. Hopefully this years’ Summer League will act as a launching platform for McLemore—his defensive awareness, ball handling and confidence are the biggest areas in need of improvement, and a week playing against fellow youngsters will benefit McLemore greatly.
It seemed like a steal when Ben McLemore fell into the Kings lap with the No. 7 pick in last year’s draft. The two-guard was projected to be a top-3 pick thanks to his shooting-athleticism combination. With the young Kings going nowhere, McLemore was given ample opportunities to get his feet wet and contribute.
McLemore’s effort was never a problem, and his relentless motor was fun to watch on both ends of the court. Unfortunately, the results were largely unimpressive. McLemore was a frequent target defensively, and his below-average ball-handling limited him offensively. Most concerning was the amount of open jumpers that McLemore missed. Often times, the Kings only asked Ben to knock down set shots. He simply could not be counted on to hit his jumpers, despite a beautiful stroke.
All that said, McLemore showed enough signs throughout the year to keep his future prospects alive. Ben clearly got better as the season went on — the game slowed down, he stopped jacking jumpers, attacked the basket and also made strides defensively. The kid is a worker, has a great attitude and is in constant motion on the court. Remember…he would have been just a sophomore at Kansas last season. I’m confident he will put in the work over the summer and come back stronger next year.
I have to admit, I did expect a bit more from McLemore this season but he showed enough flashes of brilliance (not to mention a fantastic work ethic) for me to be a believer. He also wasn’t given the most enviable position considering the Kings were a bit of a cluster in the backcourt for the first few seasons of the month.
Once McLemore had a spot cleared for him with the trades of Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton, the former Jayhawk started to play much better and while his shooting and shot selection still need work, that’s one of the easier things to fix for a basketball player like McLemore. Overall, his rookie season wasn’t anything special but I’m still quite excited about the future given his talent and desire to get better.