Battle of the Shooting Guards: Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo?

Conner BoydCorrespondent IMay 26, 2013

Battle of the Shooting Guards: Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo?

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    It's one of the most heated debates in this year's draft. Who would you rather take in this draft? Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo?

    Both have similar qualities, but they are two very unique players. They're easily the two best overall shooting guards, and both are pegged as likely top-five picks in this year's draft.

    But who should you take? Who is better offensively? Defensively?

    This is going to be a breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of both guards on both sides of the floor, as well as all-around general abilities.

    This is a particularly important question if you're a Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets fan, as the fans believe that either McLemore or Oladipo will be drafted with Charlotte's fourth pick. Anthony Bennett, the power forward out of UNLV should not be immediately written off, but many believe that the talent of these two shooting guards is too much to pass up on.

    *All stats provided by Sports-Reference.com

Athleticism/Size

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    This is one of those categories that's very hard to pick a winner in. Both McLemore and Oladipo have ideal size for their position, and are superior athletes.

    Let's take a look at their combine results in the testing phase:

    Results

    Height w/ shoes: Oladipo: 6'4.25" McLemore: 6'4.75"

    Wingspan: Oladipo: 6'9.25" McLemore: 6'7.75"

    Weight: Oladipo 213 McLemore: 189

    No step vert: Oladipo: 33.0' McLemore: 32.5'

    Max vert: Oladipo: 42.0' McLemore: 42.0'

    Lane agility: Oladipo: 10.69 McLemore: 11.87

    3/4 Court spring: Oladipo: 3.25 McLemore: 3.27

    All records provided by DraftExpress.com

    As expected, Both players are virtually identical in size, with McLemore having a slight edge in height, and Oladipo in weight and wingspan. The athletic drills also give Oladipo a slight edge, though only marginally.

    We saw both Oladipo and McLemore display absurd amounts of athleticism this season, and both fit the build of a shooting guard.

    Advantage: Slight nod to Oladipo here, but they're both virtually equal athletically.

Defense

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    It's no secret that Victor Oladipo is easily the best wing defender in this draft, and behind Nerlens Noel, probably the second best defender overall. He has an unbelievably high motor on the defensive end that leads to a ton of steals and pass interruptions. He plays the lanes well, and his leaping ability and wingspan (along with defensive IQ) allow him to block his fair share of shots.

    Victor Oladipo recorded 2.2 steals per game and 0.8 blocked shots per game.

    His muscle and speed also allows him to either breakthrough or move around screens as good as anyone I've ever seen. He's a tenacious on-the-ball defender, and he's almost as good off-the-ball.

    Ben McLemore is not as highly polished defensively, but is still a good defender. With the right coaching in the NBA, McLemore has the athleticism, drive and talent to be an above-average wing defender in the NBA. He only recorded 1.0 steal per game and 0.7 blocks per game. While those stats are much less than Oladipo's, McLemore shouldn't be considered inferior.

    McLemore is a year and three months younger than Oladipo, and was playing his first season of college ball. Oladipo was in his third season and only averaged 1.1 steals and 1.4 steals per game in his first and second years respectively.

    Bottom line: They're both good defenders, and Oladipo is an NBA-ready defender, while McLemore has defensive upside that needs time to develop. Also his motor and talents are similar to Oladipo's.

    Advantage: Oladipo. Easily. But in another two or three years, McLemore will be a good defender capable of matching Victor's skills on D, just as long as he puts as much effort into it as Oladipo clearly has.

Ball-Handling and Passing

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    This one has a clear winner, though both Oladipo and McLemore need to make improvements to be effective playmakers in the NBA.

    The one who has less work to do? McLemore.

    Ben McLemore's biggest criticism is his inability to create his own shot off the dribble, and that's true. He did have a very Ray Allen-style of play at Kansas (if Ray Allen was as good of a dunker).

    McLemore was a great spot up shooter, but his offensive production at the next level will be dependent on his ability to learn to create at a higher level.

    Oladipo has very much the same problem. Though his offensive play-style is very different than McLemore's, one of Oladipo's biggest flaws has been ball security. Sure, he can steal two balls a game, but he also turned it over 2.3 times to McLemores 2.1 (and McLemore played about four minutes more per-game than Oladipo)

    There's no doubt that they're score-first shooting guards, and neither had assist numbers that blew anyone away. Oladipo averaged 2.1 assists per game, while McLemore averaged 2.0 assists per game. That gives Oladipo an advantage statistically, but you also have to factor in bad passes that led to turnovers.

    A lot of McLemore's passing abilities aren't reflected in his assist numbers either. Game tape shows that McLemore is an above-average passer and facilitator. His offensive prowess draws players to him, while he'll pass it away and then the next person will pass it into an assist. McLemore is simply better at ball-movement at this stage of his career.

    Advantage: McLemore, though they both need work on creating their own shots.

Finishing at the Rim

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    This one is a dead heat, and I think, objectively, there's no clear winner in this category. Both McLemore and Oladipo are highly capable finishers.

    Highlight reels and game tape show how high these guys really get in the air when they're on the fast break...it's every bit of that 44 inch max vert and more on the court. 

    Both dunk with extreme authority, both are excellent targets for lobs into alley-oops and both almost always seem to finish.

    McLemore could still use more muscle on his body to really be able to drive and finish through a foul, while Oladipo seems to already be at that level. However, with how well both of these guys were able to finish, and their instincts at the rim, there's no clear winner.

    Both are outstanding finishers.

    Advantage: Tie.

Rebounding

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    The stat line would appear to show a clear winner in this category, but don't be so quick to jump to conclusions.

    Vic grabbed 6.3 rebounds per game in 2012-13 while Mac averaged 5.2. That's also with Oladipo getting about four less minutes of work than McLemore.

    McLemore has about half an inch on Oladipo, but Oladipo's wingspan is larger and he's able to play tough and get in for a rebound.

    Oladipo's physical offensive style of play also helps him grab a ton of offensive rebounds. The most interesting statistic here is that Oladipo grabbed 93 offensive rebounds this season to McLemore's 47. That has nothing to do with Mac's inability to get in and grab an offensive rebound. It's just the fact that McLemore is on the perimeter significantly more on the offensive side of the floor than Oladipo, meaning Victor is regularly in better position to grab offensive rebounds.

    Things level out in favor of McLemore on the defensive side of things. McLemore grabbed 145 defensive boards to Oladipo's 134. Again, it's not a knock on Oladipo's rebounding ability. It's just a statistic that points out that both of these guys are good rebounders in different ways.

    With Oladipo's wingspan and his physical style of play, you have to look at him as a more long-term successful rebounder in the NBA, especially with McLemore hanging out on the perimeter like teams will want him to.

    Advantage: Oladipo, but again, no knock on McLemore. Both are good rebounders for their position.

Jump Shot

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    Like Oladipo had the clear advantage on the defensive slide, McLemore has the clear advantage in this slide. With Big Mac being compared to a more athletic and explosive version of Ray Allen, quite possibly the best pure shooter in the history of the NBA, you can't say he doesn't have the advantage here.

    A lot of people will point out the fact that Oladipo had higher field goal percentages and even a higher three-point percentage. McLemore shot 49.5 percent overall, and 42.0 percent from beyond the arc. Both are extremely impressive numbers for a shooting guard.

    But wait a minute! Oladipo rocked a 59.9 percent field goal percentage and a 44.1 three point percentage.

    Why does McLemore have the clear advantage then?

    It all comes down to what I've been saying over and over again during this slideshow: Style of play.

    The vast majority of Oladipo's scoring came from inside the paint or short inside jumpers, using his physicality to get in close, while McLemore spent a lot more time on the perimeter and in the mid-range than Oladipo. Mclemore took a total of 174 three-pointers this past season, while Oladipo only took 68. There's nothing wrong with that, and props to Oladipo for making over 44 percent of his tries, but with his style of play, almost all of his threes were wide-open, spot up shots.

    McLemore actually made 73 of his three-pointers, five more than Oladipo took.

    And then there's mechanics. Oladipo has worked hard (and he has done a pretty good job) of fixing his jump-shot mechanics, but the fact is, it's still a big-time work in progress. His mechanics still aren't very repeatable, they're not fluid, and quite frankly, it's a pretty ugly jumper. It works for him and his style, but those are the facts.

    McLemore's jumper is an absolutely beautiful piece of art. It's easily the best jump-shot we've seen in the NBA draft in a long time, and the comparisons to Ray Allen aren't far off. His jumper is absolutely picturesque.

    Advantage: McLemore. Oladipo is improving in this area, but I don't think anyone will argue that McLemore, at this point, has a much better jumper.

Who's the Best?

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    It all comes down to this. Who is the best shooting guard in this class?

    If you're asking me, I'm going to tell you Ben McLemore. I know he has what it takes to absolutely scorch the scoreboard in the NBA, which is ultimately what you look for in an NBA shooting guard. A guy who can score in a hurry.

    Victor Oladipo will be a great shooting guard on a team that needs his style of play. A guy who is tough, physical, willing and able to improve in the areas that he's lacking and a glue guy who can be relied on as a second or third option scorer.

    However, Ben McLemore has the best chance in this draft of making the All-Star game one day. His offensive skills are second to none in this class, he's a solid passer and rebounder and once he figures out how to create off the dribble, he's going to be one of the best shooting guards in the league.

    Both are tremendous athletes, have tremendous work ethic and high moral fiber and both are going to be great players in the NBA.

    Ben McLemore, though, is going to be a little better.