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Checklist for No. 7 Draft Pick Ben McLemore to Thrive with Sacramento Kings

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Checklist for No. 7 Draft Pick Ben McLemore to Thrive with Sacramento Kings
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McLemore is a great shooter and incredibly gifted, but he needs to be more focused and assertive on the court.

If this were baseball and Ben McLemore had a walk-out song, it would be “Thrift Shop,” right?

It’s perfect.

The obvious connection is that the song’s artist, Macklemore, has a name that sounds an awful lot like McLemore. Also, Macklemore’s first name is actually Ben. The cherry on top, of course, is that McLemore showed up to the NBA draft wearing a fur fox skin.

Okay, I made that last one up, but Sacramento Kings got a steal when they drafted McLemore, the basketball player, No. 7 overall.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix and Matt Moore of CBS Sports had him going No. 2 overall to the Orlando Magic, and ESPN’s Chad Ford had him going No. 4 to the Charlotte Bobcats (Insider required).

Our very own Jonathan Wasserman had him falling to No. 5, but few placed McLemore any lower than that.

“[The] expectation is still that if McLemore is on the board, the Magic will take him,” wrote Mannix. “[It] will be difficult for the Magic to pass on McLemore, a Ray Allen-type shooter with superior athleticism.”

Moore echoed:

Nothing is a lock, especially in a draft like this, but if Orlando keeps the pick, it's safe to move McLemore into the ‘expected pick’ category for the Magic. He just fits too many of their needs while remaining one of the better prospects on the board and still young enough to develop considerably.

There was even a columnist in Cleveland that wanted the Cavaliers to take him No. 1 overall.

“The goal should be to leave the draft with the best player in the draft, the one that will end up being the best long-term,” wrote Chris Fedor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“That player is Ben McLemore.”

Well, the Non-LeBrons took Anthony Bennett, the Magic took Victor Oladipo and five picks later the Kings looked up at the draft board and probably said something like: Wait! What the hell? McLemore is still available.

Apparently they got the best player in the draft at No. 7 overall.

You could say that they went, ahem, thrift shopping and found something cool like a Raptors jersey with the actual raptor on it or the Space Jam Rockets uni.

The major difference between McLemore and a vintage basketball jersey is, of course, that you won’t find a jungle of chest hair on him.

 

What He Does Well

McLemore shoots the ball well and has often been compared to Ray Allen because of the great form on his shot and his ability to find open space on the court.

“I definitely can compare myself to Ray Allen, especially with the shooting ability,” McLemore said to Bob Finnan of the News-Herald. "I don’t know about the athleticism anymore. But I definitely can say I compare myself with him a lot as far as getting myself open, coming off screens and little things like that.”

Okay, that’s McLemore saying that, but Mannix was not the first writer, scout or coach to compare the two when he did in his mock draft. There is reason to believe that McLemore’s ability to bury the long ball will carry over to the NBA.

“Without question has elite level NBA 2 guard potential with the talent to eventually place himself among the top shooting guards in the league in his prime,” wrote Aran Smith for NBADraft.net. “Shoots with a fluid and concise motion and takes the same shot every time.”

McLemore redshirted his freshman season at Kansas due to academics, but the 20-year-old was incredibly efficient in his first year in Lawrence, shooting 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from three and 87 percent from the line.

On top of that, McLemore is an elite athlete. It is one thing to shoot threes consistently; it is another to be able to blow by an opponent and offer something on defense.

Raves the Grantland staff:

McLemore has the most impressive collection of skill and athleticism in the entire 2013 draft. In many ways, the 6-foot-5 Kansas guard is the perfect prospect for the modern era of the NBA, an era obsessed with players and schemes that produce highly efficient looks from beyond the arc and at the rim. McLemore excels in both those areas.

Again, this is a guy that was in the discussion for the first overall pick, so it should come as no surprise that he is a great overall player.

The next Ray Allen? We’ll have to wait and see.

 

What He Needs to Improve Upon

McLemore needs to focus and be assertive. At times he appeared to be aloof and on autopilot. Even during times when he was concentrating, he deferred to less talented teammates, which concerned some NBA executives and may explain why he fell to No. 7.

“It's easy to confuse a lack of focus for a lack of passion,” wrote Smith for NBADraft.net, “and it's a real possibility that his struggles were more related to inexperience and concentration lapses instead of competitiveness or mental toughness issues.”

“That’s not to infer that McLemore is lazy or uncooperative,” echoes the Grantland staff when describing his lack of focus, “by almost all accounts he works hard, listens to coaches, and loves basketball.”

Confidence will come and his coaches will push him to be assertive, making those two red flags something that can be overcome with the right amount of playing time and good coaching.

 

How He Can Be Successful This Year

Here is the problem: The Kings are kind of a mess right now, and everything you read about McLemore says he needs to be in a good situation in order to succeed.

Tyreke Evans is gone, DeMarcus Cousins is a distraction and Jimmer Fredette is, well, Jimmer.

Grantland compared McLemore to James Harden, a player that was also considered aloof and turned into a serious scoring threat in the NBA. But Harden had Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to carry the Oklahoma City Thunder. Nobody on the Kings compares to them.

McLemore would thrive with a top-notch point guard that excelled at distributing the ball, but Sacramento doesn’t really have that.

Finally, the Kings are on their sixth coach since Rick Adelman left in 2006. Proper coaching is important for any young player, but especially McLemore. Instability may hamper his development and leave a lot of his potential untapped while in California’s Central Valley.

On the bright side, because he was not the first overall pick, McLemore will not be expected to carry his team from Day 1. He will be able to grow alongside other players, assuming the Kings hold on to guys like Cousins and continue to draft in the lottery.

McLemore has a lot of talent, enough to be considered one of the greatest steals in the 2013 draft, but he must be put in a position to succeed.

Time will tell if Sacramento can benefit from going thrift shopping on draft day.

 

Tom Schreier covers Minnesota sports for Bleacher Report and is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports.

 

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