Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore will be a no-brainer lottery pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA draft.
He has drawn interest from every team that holds one of the top five picks and his name is likely to keep appearing in different slots in various mock drafts until June 26 is another X on the calendar.
As Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld already noted, McLemore's invitation to draft night from the NBA has already been sent out—an honor usually reserved for lottery locks at this stage of the game:
Hearing first wave of Draft Invites are in - Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Trey Burke, Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo & Alex Len— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 14, 2013
Heck, Fox Sports' Sam Amico reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers were very much keeping him in the conversation at No. 1 earlier in this process:
Cavs front office seriously dissecting possibility of drafting Ben McLemore with No. 1 pick, source says. More this wknd on @FOXSportsOH— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 7, 2013
McLemore won't get past the Phoenix Suns at No. 5, and should be the subject of trade discussions among teams with needs at shooting guard that want to move up higher in the draft to change their franchise fortunes.
As it sits right now, McLemore's best fit inside the top five is with the Orlando Magic—owners of the NBA's worst 2012-13 regular season record and winners of the No. 2 overall selection in the NBA draft following the league lottery.
Orlando had a dreadful start to the post-Dwight Howard era, opening strong, but eventually losing Glen "Big Baby" Davis to injury and trading away J.J. Redick in midseason when things were tanking.
The Magic currently have guys on the roster to plug into the shooting guard spot with Aaron Afflalo leading the way and 2012 second-rounder Doron Lamb and former Purdue standout E'Twaun Moore among them.
That being said, none of those guys has the long-term potential that the Jayhawks' redshirt freshman has, in large part because his skill set is still developing on both ends of the court. What we saw at Kansas was just the tip of the iceberg.
McLemore averaged 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 49.5 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent shooting from the three-point line in 37 games for the Jayhawks. He also added a steal and nearly a block per game.
The one major knock on McLemore, as Andy Glockner of SI.com noted, is the idea that he doesn't have the mindset of a No. 1 option in an offense. He often deferred to other teammates at Kansas. Considering he was a redshirt freshman, that was no surprise, but a No. 2 overall pick usually can carry a team if necessary at the shooting guard position.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla listed McLemore's best fit being with the Magic ("insider access required), noting that the placement of Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless as options on the wing alongside the young guard would allow him to start right away and have some help on both ends.
Orlando will also have Davis, Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic, the emerging young star from USC—at its disposal next season—and sixth-man-caliber forward Al Harrington off the bench.
Orlando is a perfect place for McLemore to start his NBA career.
As Kevin Pelton noted in the same ESPN piece, one way to fix the knock on McLemore as a pass-first player is to feed him the ball in big moments without a choice the other way. He lists Charlotte as McLemore's best fit, but the same idea could apply with the Magic.
Davis and Nelson have both hit big shots in their day, but it's clear the offense in Orlando is shifting to young guns. With this pick, the Magic need a player who can play in tandem with their new young star in Vucevic and also add some scoring punch that this team has lacked since former stars like Jason Richardson and Vince Carter moved on.
The Magic are far from being NBA contenders again, but McLemore is a great start to getting the franchise into a new direction of hope and consistency moving forward.
Scouts rave about his ability to stretch the floor, his measurements from the NBA Draft Combine—as ESPN's Chad Ford noted—and his athleticism, which may be the most overlooked aspect of what he did at Kansas in just one season.
What do you feel McLemore's best top-five fit is?
Orlando has a plethora of options at No. 2. Among them are Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter Jr. and Victor Oladipo, while dark-horse candidates include Trey Burke and Alex Len. The Magic need to recognize that McLemore fills a need and an ability to be flexible this offseason.
ESPN's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne listed Afflalo as a potential trade chip to entice the Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Bledsoe. With McLemore in the fold, there wouldn't be any hesitation to that move if I'm Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan.
As the final week of the NBA draft prep winds down and the rumors really start to swirl, make sure you pay attention to McLemore and Orlando.
If he gets past the Cavs at No. 1, there's a good chance that he'll be in blue, black and white next season by the time the second pick is turned in to NBA commissioner David Stern.