Okay, so it’s not exactly Michael Jordan on Patrick Ewing. But this baseline spin and soaring slam by the Sacramento Kings’ Ben McLemore during his team’s loss to the Golden State Warriors is still pretty impressive.
McLemore finished with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting against Golden State while helping keep Klay Thompson in check. So while it was a strong overall performance by the sophomore guard from Kansas, it still left you wanting more – especially considering 11 of his points came in the game’s opening minutes.
Blessed with a beautiful shooting stroke and the rare explosion exhibited here, McLemore has fallen short of expectations throughout his first two NBA seasons. Even though his play is wildly improved in 2014-2015 compared to his rookie year, for instance, it still falls short of the impact his base of gifts suggest. Players with his combination of shooting ability and athleticism are few and far between.
But peering below the surface makes it easy to explain McLemore’s limitations. He was lightly recruited as a high-schooler and forced to redshirt at Kansas due to academic concerns. This is just his third season playing high-level basketball, basically, and the third in which he’s been a guard, too. McLemore was a post player before breaking out on the prep scene as a rising senior.
He simply lacks the advanced ballhandling skills and overall playmaking nuance of his perimeter peers, and rightfully so. But his relative inexperience doesn’t mean development of those attributes is inevitable – some players are just ill-equipped to create.
McLemore might be one of them. But even if that’s the case, he still has a lot to offer the Kings as a floor-spacer, transition runner, and game defender. Whether eye-opening plays like this are fleeting or otherwise, Sacramento could certainly do worse.
What do you think?
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