Sacramento Kings: The Curious Case of Ben McLemore

When Ben McLemore fell to the Sacramento Kings with the 7th overall pick, he was widely considered by NBA analysts and fans to be one of the steals of the draft. There was uncertainty as to why Ben slid so far down in the draft because the general consensus beforehand was that he was a top 3 pick, with the potential to go 1st overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Kings and their fans were understandably excited at the time thinking they had come away with a gem; the Kings YouTube account even posting a video of the front office celebrating as though they had won the lottery (see below).

Now it’s 2016; Ben McLemore has now played three seasons in the NBA. The once coveted draft selection is now finding himself in a tough situation as his lack of improvement during his three seasons with Sacramento doesn’t bode well for his future in the NBA. 

In three seasons, McLemore has averaged 9.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.7 APG while shooting 41.4% from the field and 34.6% from behind the 3-point line. These numbers are very underwhelming considering McLemore was a top 10 pick.

His best statistical season was his second season in which he averaged 12.1 PPG while shooting 43.7% and 35.8% from outside. Pretty respectable stats for a guy who started all 82 games during only his second season in the NBA while also playing with ball dominant players such as Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins.

However, this trend did not continue for Ben as in his third and most recent season his numbers dropped across the board. Ben gave Kings fans hope after his second season, finally showing the potential that was talked about when he was drafted.

After the disappointing 2015-2016 campaign, Kings fans are starting to lose hope that Ben can turn it around and become a reliable contributor to a team in need of production from the shooting guard position.

Where has it gone wrong for Ben McLemore? His playing time wouldn’t be an issue as Ben has started a total of 232 games across his three-year career whilst also logging an average of 27.2 minutes per game.

Mar 3, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) dunks during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 3, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) dunks during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

He has played for three different coaches in his career so stability could certainly be a valid argument as to why he hasn’t made the leap yet.

After watching him play almost every single game in his career, I still see potential in Ben; but I also see why he has yet to fulfil that potential. He often looks lost on the court, running around like a headless chicken at times. At times, he looks like nothing more than a D-League player.

However, on the odd occasion, we are treated to the athletic, smooth, and graceful Ben McLemore. The Ben McLemore who was drafted 7th overall, the Ben McLemore who electrifies the crowd with his high-flying dunks, the Ben McLemore who has the Ray Allen-esque shooting form. This is the Ben McLemore that gives the few remaining believers hope that he can turn it around.

Time is running out for Ben. Next season is the last season of his rookie contract before he becomes a restricted free agent. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see Ben in a Kings jersey next season, a change of scenery could be beneficial to him. The Kings should give him one last chance, one more season to try and prove those doubters wrong.

I still believe in Ben, why not give him one more chance. If it doesn’t work out next season then he can either be moved at the trade deadline or let go in free agency. Ben McLemore has all the tools to succeed, but his time in Sacramento may be running out.