What Ben McLemore Needs To Address This Offseason


Over the last decade there has been an epidemic going around in NBA cities where fans have a false sense of expectation when it comes to up and coming basketball prospects.

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When college prospects (especially the top ranked) finally enter the big leagues, they are often expected to make an impact right away. Sure, there are the Anthony Davis’s, and the Kyrie Irving’s that can fly by one year of college and immediately become studs at the professional level, but the unfortunate reality is that that particular breed of athlete are part of a tiny fraction of players in the world.

As an avid fan of Grant Napear (Kings play-by-play announcer), I frequently remember him saying on his radio show that you can get a good idea of what an NBA player will become by their third season. Ben McLemore is about to enter his third season.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, McLemore has not lived up to the expectations that I had for him when he first entered the NBA, but that isn’t his fault.

In 2012, if you told me that the Kings would have DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and Ben McLemore, I would have thought the Kings would be in playoffs (or at least in the hunt). Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The reason why I had this misconception is because I thought McLemore would be part of that tiny percentage of players that would have an immediate impact when they step onto the NBA hardwood, and obviously I was wrong.

Ben has All-Star caliber potential, but he is still incredibly raw, and for him to make another huge developmental leap heading into next season, he must improve in these areas.

Consistent Shooting: The main component that made me think McLameore would be a stud right out of the gate was that he was an automatic sharpshooter in his time at Kansas.

In his only year as a Jayhawk, McLemore shot almost 50% from the floor, while making 42% of his shots beyond the thee-point line, with a shooting stroke comparable to legendary sniper Ray Allen.

But during his tenure with the Kings, McLemore has been consistently inconsistent. Some nights, fans get to witness a potential Ray Allen in the making, while other nights Ben makes fans want to pull their hair out because of his occasional shooting slumps.

We see the potential in his shot, and have seen it be a threat in his time in college. This offseason, McLemore better be ready to take tons of shots in the gym because for this team, and Ben himself, to really take off next season, a reliable jump shot is needed.

Defense: You can say that every player on the current Kings roster can improve in this aspect of the game, but right now we’re just going to talk about Ben. Not only was McLemore a sharpshooter in college, but what also attracted scouts was the prominent athleticism that he displayed.

McLemore definitely has the tools to become a strong defender in this league, and we saw a little bit of this potential at the beginning of the season. At the start of the year, McLemore was the Kings best perimeter defender, and was frequently assigned to guard the opponent’s best offensive weapons.

He did a good job in fulfilling this role because he was quick, active, and most importantly, confident in himself defensively. But as the season progressed, McLemore’s defense started to decline.

My personal opinion on this is that I think McLemore has cutback his level of effort on defense. I remember witnessing McLemore fighting off screens, keeping players in front of him, and challenging their shots at the beginning of the season. But as the season wore on, he looked a bit lackadaisical to me, and I think a lot of it has to do with the after effects of how Coach Malone was fired by the Kings.

Defense was the number one priority going into the season, and just like that, ownership changes course on a dime and says that offense is the priority. That can definitely result in a declining defensive focus.

But now that the Kings finally have a coach solidified for their future that focuses equally on both ends of the court, there should be nothing stopping McLemore from becoming at least a solid defender next season.

Ball Handling: Probably one of the most, if not the most important attribute that McLemore needs to greatly improve this offseason is his ability to handle the basketball.

In my opinion, McLemore’s ball handling is the weakest part of his game because it has restricted McLemore from achieving his full offensive potential. We all know McLemore has the natural ability to shoot, but his athleticism can also make him a potentially dynamic slasher.

If McLemore can improve his ball handling this offseason, it will definitely help increase his ability to drive to the basket. It will also open up better opportunities to shoot the basketball, due to becoming more versatile offensively.

Overall, if McLemore can improve on the aspects of his game listed above, it would greatly help the Kings moving forward.

The Kings are planning to overhaul their roster again, and a lot of speculation out there is suggesting that McLemore might be part of a potential trade offer the Kings could make in the offseason.

I personally wouldn’t want that, in fact, I want the Kings to keep Ben as long as possible in the purple and white because I believe McLemore will eventually become a reliable asset for the Kings.

He has the potential to be great, plus the work ethic and attitude to fulfill that potential.

I view McLemore as a puzzle set that is a couple of pieces away from its complete image. This offseason, I’m confident McLemore will be able to fit the remaining pieces in their appropriate spots, and as a result will become what Kings fans believed McLemore could be when he was selected the 7th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, a perennial stud.

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