Memphis Grizzlies: 5 goals for Ben McLemore in 2017-18

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Ben McLemore hasn’t blossomed in the way many hoped he would, but the Memphis Grizzlies are betting their is still growth left in him.

The Memphis Grizzlies‘ 2017-18 NBA season is nearly upon us, and in preparation we’re spending some time setting expectations for the team’s most important players by outlining several goals that will, should they be achieved, allow for both individual and collective success.

If you missed our previous installments, please feel free take a look at the five goals we set for Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Tyreke Evans here, here, and here.

For Memphis’ younger players, these goals revolve around potential areas of major development. For the team’s elder statesmen, the focus is more on staving off decline, and finding smaller, additional ways to be impactful. The topic of today’s discussion, Ben McLemore, falls into the former category.

With the departures of Tony Allen and Vine Carter, the Grizzlies are left with a sizable shooting guard hole. Several different players will be competing for the now vacant starting spot, but the frontrunner to fill the role would appear to be McLemore, Memphis’ biggest free agent addition.

The Grizzlies didn’t have much cap room to work with this offseason, so declaring McLemore a major signing would be a bit misleading, but the team did opt to use what little resources it had to work with to land him.

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Whether or not that was the best course of action is an open debate. McLemore hasn’t played well in his first four seasons in the league. Despite a decent shooting year, he finished 2016-17 second-to-last among shooting guards in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus. That’s not entirely damning. Real Plus-Minus is a nice catch all stat, but it’s not the only tool that should be used to evaluate performance, and lots of young players have negative impacts on the game before they grow into real contributors.

McLemore has been stuck in Sacramento for his entire career, suffering through one of the worst front office/ownership regimes in all of basketball, and playing under four coaches in as many years. The kind of chaos that surrounded the Kings throughout McLemore’s time with the team is absolutely the type of thing that can stunt development, and the Grizzlies are placing a bet that it did.

The odds of that bet paying off took a bit of a hit when McLemore injured his foot playing pickup this summer. He’s expected to miss at least three months of action. We’ll move forward with this exercise assuming he’ll recover fully.

McLemore is young, athletic, and a decent shooter. That’s not a terrible starting point, but it’s far from the kind of complete two-way player Memphis is hoping they can develop him into. Let’s dive into a few things that would help him get to that place.