With only one year under his belt at Kansas, Ben McLemore has made a quick rise to stardom. It’s rare to see players grow into the spotlight as quickly as McLemore has, and that’s what has NBA scouts so intrigued about the 6-5 shooting guard. McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field in his one year at Kansas, an extremely high clip for a shooting guard.
After winning both Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors in the Big 12, McLemore quickly began to gain attention from NBA scouts as a top-five prospect in the draft. With the way the chips have fallen, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be selected No. 1 overall. In what most would call a weak draft in terms of star quality, McLemore’s All-Star potential is still receiving a lot of attention.
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NBA Comparison: O.J. Mayo
McLemore has that same eye opening potential that Mayo had coming out of USC. He has the all-around scoring package, combined with the size and athleticism that makes you think he has what it takes to be an All-Star. However, the question with O.J. Mayo was always his drive and determination. With McLemore it’s sort of the same thing. How bad does he really want to be great? Is he content with just being another role player in this league or does he want to take his game to the next level and become the next great shooting guard after the likes of Kobe Bryant, James Harden and Dwyane Wade? That’s something that’s truly up to him.
McLemore will be a solid guard in the NBA regardless. He has enough talent to have a decent career, but the question is if he’s satisfied with that. For the majority of O.J. Mayo’s career, he has been content with being a decent player. This year he showed flashes of the type of player he could become, but the lack of consistency is what’s holding him back. At worst, McLemore will be another O.J. Mayo. He’ll be a player capable of putting up big numbers occasionally but never on a consistent basis. Hopefully his drive and determination exceeds that of Mayo, so he doesn’t stall out the same way Mayo did.
McLemore is a supreme athlete for a shooting guard. He has all the necessary traits to become an electrifying player at the position. His jumping ability is good enough to catch backdoor lobs. His speed and quickness is good enough to attack the rim with force in transition. His strength allows him to finish at the rim, and his shiftiness allows him to get past defenders. At the combine, he marked a 42-inch max vertical leap, which needless to say is above average.
Although he’s a good athlete, McLemore can’t rely too much on his athleticism at the next level. In college, he was more athletic than his matchup on a nightly basis. In the NBA, it’s not going to be like that. He has to accept that and use his athleticism in creative ways to make the game come easy to him. Once he adjusts to the speed of the NBA he’ll learn to make things easier on himself with his athleticism as opposed to trying to outclass his opponent every night. McLemore is an above-average athlete, but the key for him is applying his athleticism the right way.
McLemore’s skill-set is what has people so impressed with him. His three-point shot is so smooth and natural. It’s where the Ray Allen comparisons come from. He shot 42 percent from three this season and much of it has to do with his refined shooting form. McLemore has what it takes to become a long-range sniper. He’s one of those players that you just can’t leave open on the perimeter. He has a good knowledge of when to shoot and when to pass up shots (as reflected by his high shooting percentage). In terms of strictly shooting, McLemore is a 10. However, it’s creating his own shot from the perimeter that he tends to have trouble with.
McLemore’s handle is just decent. It’s good enough to get him past defenders in transition, but he’s not the type of player you want to give the ball to on an island in an isolation setting. McLemore’s skill-set when it comes to creating his own shot is limited and that’s the aspect of his game he’ll have to work on most going forward.