Most NBA draft experts consider Ben McLemore to be the top shooting guard entering the league with the Class of 2013.
Will the Cleveland Cavaliers use the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft on him?
The former Kansas Jayhawk was highly touted coming out of high school (Christian Life Centre Academy in Houston), and certainly lived up to the hype last season as a freshman in Lawrence, leading Bill Self's Jayhawks with 15.9 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
In addition to shooting 87 percent from the foul line, McLemore averaged 5.2 rebounds and two assists per game.
Only 20 years old, the St. Louis native has a bright future ahead of him.
McLemore's brilliant shooting and explosiveness on the offensive end has even drawn comparisons to NBA great Ray Allen. Both players have an extremely quick release on their jump shot, and like Allen, the game comes easy to McLemore, who rarely looks like he's forcing the issue out on the court.
More recently, McLemore has been compared to NBA rookie Bradley Beal (via NBA.com's Adam Zagoria), who averaged 13.9 points per game for the Washington Wizards last season after being drafted No. 3 overall in the 2012 NBA draft:
Adam Zagoria @AdamZagoria
NBA GM on Ben McLemore: 'He's this year's Brad Beal.'5/21/2013, 1:20:43 AM
Like Beal, McLemore is a tremendously athletic wing player with elite shooting touch and seemingly endless range.
But unlike McLemore, Beal struggled to find the mark at times in college. He shot just 44.5 percent from the field and 34 percent from beyond the three-point arch during his one season at Florida.
The big question with McLemore potentially heading to Cleveland is this: Do the Cavs want to commit themselves to small ball?
They already have an All-Star point guard in Kyrie Irving that has become the face of the franchise. Last year, they selected the 6’4’’ combo guard Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick. Does Cleveland roll the dice with McLemore, arguably the player with the highest ceiling in the draft? They would be lethal in the open court and could provide plenty of mismatches.
The problem with Cleveland is that almost all of its core players are still unproven aside from veteran Anderson Varejao in the frontcourt. Is Tristan Thompson capable of being a star? What is Tyler Zeller’s ceiling? How about Marreese Speights?
Odds are the Cavs will be looking toward drafting a big man like Nerlens Noel, who can defend the rim and bolster the numbers for a team that ranked 22nd in the league in rebounding a season ago.
But you can't deny the appeal of landing the best pure scorer in the draft.
While McLemore has struggled with consistency himself from time to time, there were only six games last season (out of 37 total) in which he failed to score in double figures. Still, some will blame those type of efforts on a lacking motor, something that several NBA scouts and general managers feel is potentially holding him back.
Here's one NBA scout's take on McLemore's drive (via ESPN Insider):
You want a player who's going to be great with teammates off-the-court and a role model in the community. But on the court, I want an [expletive]. Ben has zero [expletive] in him. I'm not sure how he'll fare as a rookie if he isn't going to demand the ball and try to prove to his peers he can play with them. But the upside is really there if he gets that he's an elite player.
It's definitely fair to say that the only question mark regarding McLemore is his motor at this point.
He boasts all the physical traits required of a lethal NBA shooting guard and we know he's capable of dominating on both ends of the floor.
The only question now is, will his drive match up to his talent?
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