RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Ben McLemorePosted by BHayes on June 26th, 2013
The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.
Player Name: Ben McLemore
Height/Weight: 6’5”/190 lbs.
NBA Position: Shooting Guard
Projected Draft Range: Top 5-10
Overview: Ben McLemore’s decision to enter the NBA Draft came as a surprise to no one. After a successful freshman season in which he often found the occasion to flash his massive potential, the time was now for McLemore to make the leap to the pros. Anyone familiar with his game know the knocks – too nice, passive, doesn’t want to dominate. His road to Lawrence, and now the league, has also been well chronicled. McLemore overcame an impoverished childhood and unsteady home life to develop into a prized recruit, and equally impressively, a great young man (by all accounts). Last season, McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 42% from three-point range for a Kansas team that earned a #1 seed to the NCAA Tournament. Despite the complaints of passivity, McLemore did have a slew of dominant performances as a freshman. They included a 33-point outing and OT-inducing three in a victory over Iowa State, a 30-point effort versus rival Kansas State, and a 36-point explosion in a rout of West Virginia. The challenge for scouts is to determine whether McLemore will ever be able to turn those 40-minute displays into consistent elite play, but if nothing else, Ben McLemore’s freshman season revealed a player with a skill set you don’t often find.
Will Translate to the NBA: McLemore is the best shooter in this draft. Concerns about his willingness to be demonstrative and take over games are well-founded, but if you can get him open looks, he will knock down shots. Everything is picture-perfect mechanically with the stroke, and McLemore is also able to shoot over the top of defenders by getting great lift on his jumper. Athletically, the Kansas product will also prove ready for the league. He’s a smooth but explosive leaper that excels in transition, and his length should assist him in becoming a good, if not great, defender at the next level. All the raw materials are in place for McLemore to be great – what will prevent him from putting them immediately to use will be his youth and immaturity, if anything.
Needs Work: The biggest thing for McLemore will be working on his approach to the game. By all accounts a reserved kid, McLemore showed a true reticence to dominate games during his one year in Lawrence. He won’t be asked to step in and be a superstar from day one — no matter where he ends up — but fulfilling his potential will almost definitely involve a development of a killer instinct. Let’s also remember that McLemore is just 20 and relatively naïve – learning how to be a professional and adapt to the grind of the NBA could also prove to be a challenge, so a landing spot with good veteran leadership could be particularly important for him.
Best Case Scenario: The best case scenario with McLemore is the best case scenario in this draft, period. He is your prototypical NBA shooting guard when it comes to size, length and athleticism, and is the owner of a shooting stroke that conjures up memories of a young Ray Allen. Despite maturity concerns, he proved to be a willing defender at Kansas and seems like the type of kid who wants to improve. If he can grow up in the NBA and settle into a role as a leader and primary offensive option, a career similar to Allen’s is not out of the question. Yes, Ben McLemore has the potential to be a Hall of Famer someday. I told you – there is no better best case scenario in this draft. All the pieces are in place, but as always, here is your reminder that there is a long ways to go to get there.
Best NBA Fit: Due to a series of poor workouts, McLemore’s stock has slipped in recent weeks. On talent alone, he probably should be the first player off the board, but realistically we should expect to see the St. Louis native selected somewhere between #2 and #8. The Orlando Magic at #2 is an intriguing fit for McLemore, especially if they are able to move incumbent shooting guard Aaron Afflalo to the Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe. A Bledsoe-McLemore backcourt? If I’m a Magic fan, sign me up for that. The Magic are also a nice fit in that they are not located in a major media market, and expectations for the teams (and whomever they select) shouldn’t be astronomical. Ditto that dynamic in Charlotte and Phoenix, where the Bobcats, armed with the #4 selection, and the Suns, owners of the #5 pick, could both be excited to find a talent like McLemore still on the board come their respective turns.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Prototypical two-guard with a mouth watering combination of athleticism and shooting ability… A top shelf athlete with spectacular leaping ability and body control… Appears to have just scratched the surface of his abilities in his one season of college ball… Without question has elite level NBA two-guard potential with the talent to eventually place himself among the top shooting guards in the league in his prime… “Lacks assertiveness” and “passivity” are the two most common criticisms that have been made about him. Is it possible that the bar was set a little high for a freshman that averaged 15.9 PPG on highly efficient numbers?… Still must learn how to operate in pressure situations and develop focus and mental toughness.”