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Ben McLemore's Career Projections with Sacramento Kings

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Ben McLemore's Career Projections with Sacramento Kings
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings have selected former Kansas Jayhawks shooting guard Ben McLemore with the No. 7 overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft.

It's a momentous day for one of the top players in the draft.

McLemore is a 20 year old shooting guard that stands at 6'5" and 189 pounds with a 6'8" wingspan. He's a smooth athlete that runs well in transition and explodes off of the court with powerful leaping ability.

With length and quickness on his side, McLemore has all the makings of a star at the next level.

Entering the annual selection process, McLemore was regarded as one of the top players in the nation. With an elite shooting stroke and intriguing athleticism, the former Kansas star certainly had the gifts to warrant that consideration.

For that reason, the Kings must consider this a coup—just ask the reigning league MVP.

LeBron James isn't the first person to notice how under-the-radar McLemore has flown—Kansas felt the same way in 2011.

In 2011, 247 Sports had ranked McLemore as the No. 39 recruit in the nation, with ESPN placing him at No. 49. McLemore proceeded to commit to play for Bill Self at Kansas and was redshirted during his first year.

In year two, McLemore finally received playing time and posted averages of 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal on a slash line of .495/.420/.870.

During that time, McLemore was named a consensus second team All-American and first team All-Big 12 selection. More specifically, he rocketed to the top of draft boards and was subsequently viewed as the lead candidate to go No. 1 overall.

With a dreadful NCAA Tournament, shooting a combined 2-for-14 during Kansas' first two games, that all changed.

McLemore soon found himself in a virtual deadlock with Kentucky Wildcats center Nerlens Noel. Soon thereafter, Indiana Hoosiers shooting guard and Naismith award finalist Victor Oladipo became one of the hottest commodities in the draft, overtaking McLemore on some boards.

When it was all said and done, however, the Kings made sure that McLemore would be their man—regardless of what the rest of the NBA community may have thought.

 

How McLemore Fits in Sacramento

While no one will dispute Ben McLemore's talent, there is no question that a player's fit is imperative to future success. Fortunately for the Sacramento Kings, McLemore is exactly what they needed to turn things around.

McLemore is an elite jump shooter that should become the focal point of Sacramento's perimeter.

DeMarcus Cousins is an elite offensive big man, pairing a bruising low-post game with a dangerous jump shot. In order to pound it down low, however, the Kings must be able to space the floor with shooters.

That's what McLemore can be.

While adding a facilitator is critical, McLemore can work off of screens and make his mark in transition. Regardless of how he does it, the former Kansas star will convert the three-ball with consistency and thus establish himself as a rising star.

This is the perfect place for McLemore to become a genuine star in the NBA.

 

Offensive Projections

In a class led by defensive specialists, Ben McLemore has emerged as the class of the offensive side of the ball. Not only can he shoot the ball at an elite clip—42.0 percent on an average of 4.7 attempts per game—but he can put the ball on the floor.

That's exactly why McLemore's future is so bright as a scorer.

If nothing else, McLemore will be able to make a living as a three-point marksman, scoring off of the catch and shooting well of the bounce. Being able to pull up in transition makes him a weapon in any system, while his ability to work off of screens will make a point guard's job easier.

At best, McLemore is a genuine star.

McLemore has 20-point per game potential, as he's one of the best transition scorers in the nation. Not only can he shoot the three-ball in this manner, but he should be able to get 4-to-6 points per evening on the fast break.

Paired with an average of two three-balls per evening, that's a double-figure scoring outing before we even touch on his half court prowess.

McLemore isn't an elite ball handler, but his quick first step allows him to penetrate the perimeter and enter the lane. With the ability to finish above the rim, McLemore will inevitably draw contact and hit the free-throw line for 4-to-6 attempts per game.

After converting 87.0 percent of his free throws at Kansas, it's safe to say he can convert those.

The key for McLemore will be his ability to work the drive-and-dish game, in which he's proven to be proficient. While he's not an elite facilitator by any stretch of the imagination, the ability to make the extra pass should keep opponents on their toes.

There is quite a bit of hype about McLemore's offensive game, and for the most part, it's deserved.

 

Defensive Projections

For all that's made about Ben McLemore's offensive game, he's one of the better defensive prospects at his position. While he's not quite the caliber of Victor Oladipo, McLemore has the athleticism and length to develop into quite the strong defender.

Standing at 6'5" with a 6'8" wingspan certainly permits upside.

McLemore's greatest strength defensively is his lateral quickness, which should aid him in fighting off screens and remaining in front of his man. While he's not necessarily an elite ball hawk, McLemore's ability to stay locked onto his man makes him a two-way force and thus enables early playing time.

Defensively, he projects to be similar to Portland Trail Blazers starter Wesley Matthews.

Production won't be a measure for McLemore, as his value is being able to defend in transition and close out on three-point shooters. That pairing of skills will help Sacramento improve their 12th ranked in three-point shooting as soon as next season.

This pick is based off of his offensive upside, but McLemore could be quite the solid player on defense, as well.

 

Projected Peak Averages: 24.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 43.0% 3PT

When it comes right down to it, the Sacramento Kings do not possess a strong perimeter player. For that reason, they'll likely build around Ben McLemore and run their offense through him.

Due to that fact, McLemore's numbers will inevitably become inflated.

 

Player Comparison: Ray Allen

When you're one of the most high-profile players of an NBA draft class, regardless of how star-studded it may be, you're bound to draw lofty comparisons. In Ben McLemore's case, his most common comparison is to future Hall of Fame shooting guard Ray Allen.

A stunning, but fitting, best case scenario.

McLemore is a phenomenal jump shooter that displays deep three-point range and a quick release. His form is impeccable, footwork as beautiful as any in recent memory and brilliant touch both close to and far from the basket.

With his ability to work off of screens, McLemore certainly resembles Allen as an offensive player.

The key for McLemore will be to develop the mean streak that Allen has displayed, ruthlessly pulling the trigger from all over the floor. If he's able to overcome his passive nature, McLemore could become an equally as dangerous scorer.

A lofty comparison, but one with merit.

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