When you're looking to make an expensive purchase or attempting to trade a valuable asset, the most important thing you want in return is a product that's guaranteed to work.
The first overall selection in a draft is one of the most valuable assets in the NBA. It's not something you play around with or risk on the unknown. When you draft a player first overall, you want to be damn sure that he's going to produce.
With Nerlens Noel's recent injury and an incredibly shallow draft pool, Ben McLemore has emerged as the most attractive 2013 prospect.
There are a number of reasons why he's the man right now, and while a big one has to do with Noel's injury, McLemore possesses some No. 1 overall qualities amongst an unusually underwhelming draft field.
McLemore has the purest and most accurate jump shot of any elite prospect I've seen over the past couple of years. It's in and out of his hands in one fluid motion.
One of the reasons Ray Allen is a great shooter is because he sports consistent mechanics whenever he lets it fly. He could be running at full speed off the ball, catch, set and release—all with balance and rhythm.
It's what separates the consistent three-point threats, like Stephen Curry, Allen and Ben McLemore (43.5 percent), from streaky shooters like J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford.
When McLemore lets it go, he consistently rises straight up, gets good elevation that helps separate from the defender and always has his feet squared to the rim.
Watch below as McLemore runs right off of a screen, yet still manages to catch, stop and rise without leaning or tilting his body in the direction he was moving. He ends up with one foot inside the arc once he lands on both feet.
There isn't anyone better at catching and shooting, and McLemore is accurate and smooth enough to convert spotting up, coming off a screen or using a dribble to find space to release.
Off the Screen
Off the Dribble
He's essentially a triple-threat perimeter scorer, just the way Allen was. The comparison might be a cliche at this point, but it's the most accurate one I've seen. And if you can get a Ray Allen in a draft like this, there's no shame in reaching and grabbing him No. 1.
Ideal Athleticism for his Position
There won't be any question marks about the physical transition for McLemore, who possesses ideal athleticism for an NBA off-guard.
McLemore can flat-out fly, both with his legs on the floor and wings in the air. At 6'5'' with room on his frame for added bulk, he shouldn't have any trouble finishing at the rim at the pro level. Because of his springs, he's able to get high above the rim and throw down, instead of trying to finish on the way up and dealing with long arms protecting the basket.
McLemore's athleticism also projects strongly on the defensive side of the ball. There's no doubt that he's a two-way guard, with excellent tools for protecting the perimeter.
He's a smart player who is quick laterally, anticipates well and is capable of forcing turnovers and converting them into points.
There just simply isn't a better choice, unless the team who selects No. 1 is comfortable risking the pick on an injured player who's raw to begin with.
When you take a look at the other candidates, all of them come with question marks. The only question mark surrounding McLemore is whether or not he'll be a good NBA player or a great one. His current skills are guaranteed to translate; it's just a matter of determining his ceiling.
Some have been turned off by UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, who has an unorthodox scoring repertoire and can be described as a one-dimensional player. If his scoring tools don't translate, scouts wonder what else he does well that could justify a top pick. He's also vulnerable defending the perimeter, a spot where McLemore projects to shine.
Though Indiana's Cody Zeller is an excellent offensive player, there are questions over his ability to defend the post, control the glass and protect the rim. There's always risk associated with finesse big men.
UNLV's Anthony Bennett could be an option, although we've seen too many 6'7'' tweeners struggle to find a position at the next level. Bennett is a high-end prospect, but it's too risky to use a No. 1 overall pick on him.
McLemore's basement is extremely high, meaning he'll at least be a two-way role player who can finish in transition, defend the perimeter and specialize in spreading the floor and knocking down three-point baskets. Not much risk there.
NBA Draft Stock
While Nerlens Noel's injury gives McLemore's stock a boost, he helped himself recently by dropping 30 on Kansas State.
He's averaging 16.8 points per game, and you get the feeling he could do it without dribbling once because of his ability to catch and fly or catch and shoot.
There's just so much risk associated with the majority of the class, and virtually none when it comes to McLemore. Nobody wants to be the next team to take a risk and draft a bum at the top spot.
He may not possess the upside of a typical No. 1 overall pick, but he does give off a level of certainty that should make any team that drafts him sleep well the following night.
Here are the highlights from McLemore's latest gem:
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