The Sacramento Kings caught one of the biggest breaks of the 2013 NBA Draft when Ben McLemore fell all the way to them at the No. 7 spot. McLemore’s stock was very high going into the draft and some thought he might be taken first overall. Instead, many teams focused on the need for a big man, while the Magic, who many thought would take McLemore, chose Indiana’s Victor Oladipo instead. The Kings caught a huge break as one of the most talented players in the draft fell right into their laps and will be able to make an immediate impact. This team has been in the dumps for quite some time, but the arrival of McLemore will improve them immediately.
Two of the biggest things the Kings lack are leadership and continuity. Their lineups lack consistency, as it seems like different players wind up in their backcourt every week. Jimmer Fredette‘s skills have not translated to the NBA, while Isaiah Thomas puts up decent numbers, but struggles mightily on defense. Finally, Tyreke Evans almost certainly won’t be coming back and when he was playing for the Kings, he was frequently in and out of the lineup and the Kings never seemed to get a firm grasp on what his position actually was. He appeared as a point guard, a shooting guard and a small forward over the past four seasons and never seemed to completely fit into any area. McLemore gives the Kings a quality shooting guard who will provide some consistency for one of the shakiest backcourts in the league. If he takes to the NBA right away, the impact could be immediate.
Really, solid leadership has been a major issue for this team for quite some time now. Their best player for each of the last three seasons has been DeMarcus Cousins, an extremely talented scorer who’s hot-head tendencies often get the better of him. Cousins’ scoring is extremely valuable, but his attitude problem has been a drag on the team and after three years, one can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever put it together in that regard. This is another area where McLemore can help. He has the potential to be an all-star player. He needs to assert himself as one of the leaders of this team right away. Admittedly, this will not be an easy task due to the natural lack of respect given to anyone during their rookie year, but what players respond to the most in other players is talent. If McLemore proves he is already one of the best players on the team and puts points on the board right away, the players will have no choice but to respect that.
Evans and Cousins have both displayed a ton of talent, but neither has been able to provide the Kings with leadership or take them out of the cellar. Furthermore, their abilities have stagnated in Sacramento. Evans has gotten worse each year since his rookie campaign, while Cousins has basically plateaued, with his second and third seasons looking basically identical. McLemore needs to be the one player who can overcome the rut that the Kings have been stuck in for years now. Beyond just playing well, he needs to be able to actually improve the players around him and give the Kings some much-needed confidence. He may not do this over night, but if he is able to play well early on and assert himself as a quality player right from the get-go, the Kings will improve right away and could become a playoff team down the road.