The Sacramento Kings have managed to compile quite an interesting young team, highlighted by 2013 NBA Draft selection Ben McLemore. The franchise chose the former University of Kansas swingman with the seventh pick after many pegged him to be one of the first three prospects taken in the draft. McLemore is 6’5″ and combines his size with unique athleticism and jump-shooting ability. Like most young talents, McLemore had questions regarding his motor, and whether he could find consistency to put pressure on NBA defenses on a nightly basis. His first year in the Western Conference was definitely a learning experience, and he seems to be looking forward to a bright future.
One of the first obstacles that McLemore had to overcome was adjusting to the 82-game NBA schedule, which doubles that of the 30-plus games that he played in his one and only year at Kansas. The grind of NBA minutes took a toll on McLemore mentally and physically (started 55 games, 26.7 minutes per game). McLemore’s outside shooting stroke took a hit, as he shot 32 percent from 3-point range on the season, compared to his 42 percent he shot at Kansas. Overall, he shot only 38 percentfrom the field. Tired legs may just be reason for the dip, but going forward, McLemore will definitely adjust to the extended minutes and find success from the outside.
McLemore should definitely have opportunity to get some great one-on-one opportunities, after the team acquired Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors last season. An offensive-minded small forward like Gay can draw the attention of opposing defenses, allowing a young player like McLemore the chance to get some confidence against his defender. DeMarcus Cousins is also one of the Kings’ young and developing players, and his presence will also allow McLemore to benefit. Cousins can draw in the defense looking to pass, and McLemore can work off of those skills by finding open shots around the perimeter.
At only 21 years of age, you don’t expect McLemore to continue to average only eight points per game. The season’s end was fitting for the Kings guard, as McLemore’s final game of the season featured a career-high of 31 points. He also added five rebounds and five assists in the game. After this performance, the rookie shared his sentiment on improving and working to add to his game:
“You gotta keep working each and every day,” McLemore said not long before putting together his best performance of the season – 31 points, five assists and five rebounds in the Kings’ regular season finale loss to the Phoenix Suns. “And it’s all going to work out for you (if you do). So, that’s all I want to do is keep getting better, each and every day, work on my game and also just have fun (Jonathan Santiago, Cowbell Kingdom).”
McLemore understands his role in the grand scheme for Sacramento. It is up to him to embrace it, and build upon a year that was up and down for him. As long as he works hard, and brings in a positive attitude, NBA fans will hear from Ben McLemore a lot next season.