Odds Ben McLemore Turns into NBA's Next Ray Allen
McLemore has only recently declared for the 2013 NBA draft, but that declaration was a mere formality. Everyone knew he was going to turn pro, and spent most of the college season comparing him to Allen.
And his performance has done nothing to change that (via David Aldridge of NBA.com):
"He's the closest thing to Ray Allen, but Ray Allen stayed in school three years," a Western Conference general manager said of McLemore. "Today's basketball is a little different; you talk about potential and projection. But he has all the tools. Whatever Ray has, he has. Ray didn't jump; this kid can jump. This kid can fly."
Now, Allen did have a little bounce back in his pre-Jesus Shuttleworth days. But McLemore's hops are good.
Penciling in McLemore as the second-coming of the NBA's all-time leading three-point shooter is an audacious allegory. Allen is a 10-time All-Star who has spent nearly two decades ripping the ball through the bottom of the net and making a definitive case for himself as the greatest shooter we've ever season. McLemore doesn't even have an NBA team to call his own yet.
Still, it's impossible to ignore the similarities that exist between the two. McLemore himself is a deadly shooter with some serious range, and the correlation between he and Allen exists. It's not manufactured; it's real.
But while McLemore has the tools and God-given gifts to legitimize the parallels we as spectators draw, can we guarantee that he'll ever be ready to accept the torch Allen will soon be ready to pass? That he'll become synonymous with smooth shooting and Hall of Fame-esque accolades? That Spike Lee can cast him as Jesus Shuttlesworth's protege in the sequel to He Got Game?
Of course not. Just because Allen has been untouchable for so long, though, doesn't mean he isn't in the running, either.
Let's begin with the ever-so-obvious.
McLemore has been commended for his top-notch shooting. He shot 49.3 percent from the field—high for a guard—this past season at Kansas and he converted on 42 percent of his threes.
Like Allen, McLemore is renowned for his spot-up shooting. His release is so fluid, and his accentuated follow-through is a thing of beauty. He does a great job at creating space between him and his defender when playing off the ball as well.
Just look at this particular three he knocks down.
McLemore leads his defender into the corner before exploding onto the ball. One soft, albeit well-placed, screen later and the ball finds the bottom of the net.
Pay attention to the effortless air he generates under his legs as well. His elevation affords him the ability to get off shots with very little room.
Take his game-tying shot against Iowa State.
McLemore banks the three in, and while I doubt he called it, the important thing to keep an eye on is how he's able to get himself high enough off the ground to get an adequate look at the basket.
The defensive rotations are actually pretty good here, and McLemore is closed-out on fairly well, yet he still manages to get the shot off and keep the basket in his line of sight.
His shot actually does have similarities to that of Allen's.
As you can see, Allen seems to sacrifice lift for a quicker release, but both he and McLemore exaggerate their follow-throughs, generating some nice rotation.
Fluent mechanics are difficult to master. It's more than repetition; it's the ability to remain consistent in your release, your wrist and your elbows regardless of the circumstances. And both Allen and McLemore excel there.
I'd hazard that McLemore's jumper has more arc, but again, Allen's release is quicker. At the NBA level, where defenders are swifter and more explosive, brisk (but still fluid) releases are king.
McLemore would do himself well to emulate Allen's speed, because he'll have even less time to get off shots moving forward.
Allen is 37 going on 40, so this nearly goes without saying, but McLemore is more of an athlete than him.
Back in the day (I'm talking Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle Supersonics), Allen was far more eruptive than most give him credit for. He was a premier transitional threat and could hit the rim hard when he wanted to.
Just ask Tracy McGrady.
McLemore has much of the same potential. He's not known (at all) for creating his own offense, but when he gets the ball in the open floor, then forget it. He has no trouble elevating above the rim.
In fact, against Oregon State, he had no problems rising above his defender, either.
You've got to like how he uses his arms when taking flight as well. Doing so can be just for show, but it also has function, effectively putting more space between the defender and the ball when needed.
Like most youngsters, McLemore relies heavily on his athleticism. He'll have to develop his handle and on-ball footwork (in other words, craftiness) once he gets to the NBA, but the foundation (speed, acclivity, etc.) is there for him to become more than just an athlete who shoots.
Allen has never been considered much of a defender. McLemore is of a different breed there.
The 20-year-old has some work to do when it comes to reading first step, and he does have a tendency to leave too much space between him and his man, but he's phenomenal at reading passing lanes.
At the next level, McLemore has an opportunity to channel those off-ball instincts into more complete offensive sets. He'll (hopefully) learn quickly that sub-par rotations and stepping off opposing shooting guards won't come without retribution.
That said, his ability to create extra possessions and fast-break opportunities with his hands do him wonders upon his arrival.
McLemore is a stud, especially in a draft that isn't brimming with potential on the wing. His shooting stroke easily rivals that of Allen's, and his defense arguably exceeds the veteran's.
As he begins his NBA career, McLemore will quickly find that it's going to take more than just a pretty jump shot and athletic build to justifiably compare to the greatest shooter in the game.
What exactly will it take?
Understanding that (on offense) it's not all about shooting. Allen is often used as a spot-up shooter, but he also knows how to create his own offense.
Will Ben McLemore prove to be the second coming of Ray Allen?
McLemore needs to improve his handle, employ some additional pump fakes and attack the rim. He's had some success when running the baseline, so that would be a good place to start.
Going as far as to call him the next Allen without a doubt right now would be premature. His offensive game is still too raw and we haven't seen enough of him in college to see how he adjusts.
If he can continue to expand his offensive horizons and grasp the notion that offense is more than shooting, he'll have an opportunity to develop into one of the most lethal and well-rounded scorers the NBA has ever seen.
Just like Allen.
Odds Ben McLemore is the Next Ray Allen: 5:1
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