While general managers, scouts and coaches were all likely looking forward to seeing McLemore participate in drills this week, ESPN's Chad Ford reported on Wednesday that he would in fact not be participating in that portion of the event:
No surprise, but Ben McLemore also pulling out of drills portion of NBA Draft Combine. Will participate in athletic testing.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2013
That said, McLemore has not been shy about accomplishing meetings with NBA teams in Chicago. According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, he's met with three teams already and more will soon follow suit:
Kansas's Ben McLemore says his first three interviews were Cleveland, Minnesota and New Orleans.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 16, 2013
McLemore is the consensus top guard on all NBA draft boards, and he completed a stellar redshirt freshman season for the Jayhawks during the 2012-13 campaign. He has nothing to gain by working out in Chicago, so the decision came as no real shock.
Expected to play shooting guard at the next level, McLemore reportedly measured in at 6'3" without shoes, meaning he will likely be somewhere around 6'4" in shoes when he's on the court. CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman had the tweet to confirm:
Victor Oladipo said he measured at 6-4 1/4 with shoes. Ben McLemore told me he was 6-3 without shoes.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) May 16, 2013
Ford then reported later in the day the official measurements in that department ("insider" access required) and McLemore's numbers were 6'3.5" without shoes and 6'4.75" with shoes.
Here's the list of all of his official measurables, per Ford:
|Ht.||Ht. (w/ Shoes)||Wt.||Wingspan||Reach|
|6' 3.5"||6' 4.75"||189.2||6' 7.75"||8' 4.5''
He got back on the court for the "athletic" drills on Friday, and wowed scouts again, this time with his vertical leap and quickness in some of the activities. One such activity was his vertical leap, and Ford again posted the results:
Ben McLemore. 32.5" standing vert. 42" max vert.Very similar to Oladipo. #NBADraftCombine— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 17, 2013
NBA.com/Stats on Twitter also posted a picture of McLemore's max vertical:
McLemore also ran the sprint in Chicago, and came up with a time of 3.27. NBA Guru had the tweet:
Ben McLemore with a time of 3.27 in the sprint, good for 6th place so far. instagram.com/p/Za4Bq9CsID/— NBA Guru (@NBAGuru) May 17, 2013
Although McLemore won't lace up his shoes officially to prove to the rest of the players in attendance that he's worthy of the No. 1 pick, he hasn't been shy about telling those asking that he's the best overall player among those participating in drills or entering June's draft. The NBA's official Twitter account had the post:
In his first and only season under Bill Self in Lawrence, McLemore became one of the nation's most efficient scorers. He finished the season averaging 15.9 points on 49.5 percent shooting, and added 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists to his cause to help the Jayhawks earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Kansas' national title hopes came crashing down in the Sweet 16 against Michigan, but McLemore's place as a top pick in the draft did not.
Earning comparisons to NBA scorers like Jason Richardson, Ray Allen and other somewhat undersized 2-guards who have handled the position well at the next level, McLemore is a threat to shoot from the outside every time he touches the ball and he can get to the rim in transition well, to boot.
Scouts worry about his on-ball defense against bigger guards and his ability to create offense off the dribble, especially given the idea that the NBA is more isolation-heavy than it has ever been.
However, there are very few worries about McLemore's place at the top of draft boards come June. His college performances speak for themselves, including three 30-point outbursts in Big 12 play and a myriad of other 20-point ones throughout his only college season.
Regardless of how the lottery shakes out on Tuesday night, McLemore will almost certainly be a top-five pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
It wouldn't be a stretch to project him as a top-three pick, at that.
Which lottery team (top-five odds) would McLemore help the most in his rookie season?
Currently the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic are the top-two odds holders for the NBA draft lottery, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans won't be far behind. Assuming that something crazy doesn't happen at the lottery, you could make a case for a 2-guard for all of those teams, especially since taking the best player available in the top five is key in most cases.
McLemore's size (6'4") and his ability to create offense for himself will make teams think twice about making him the No. 1 pick, especially with defensive ace Noel sitting on the board in the same slot.
That being said, it would be the shock of the draft to see more than one other player leave the board after Noel and before McLemore's name is called. He's the kind of player who can put points on the board in a hurry, and teams inside the top five that are in need of youth and a spark at that position will be eager to add him to their starting lineup.
The draft is another month out, but right now McLemore is one of the few top-five locks in the current 2013 class.