In just a few hours, Ben McLemore will become the 77th player drafted from KU. He’s expected to go anywhere from the first to the fifth pick, with most of the publicly stated concerns being more about his mental & management state as opposed to his athletic ability.
I know that oftentimes NBA teams throw smokescreens and go through efforts to hide & feint on what they want/will ultimately do, and this includes making things up about draft picks, so let’s just say I’m not convinced these are “real” concerns that GMs might have. Let’s pretend for a moment that they do have concerns about his aggressiveness and agent situation, however.
Starting with the concerns about McLemore’s management & agent, I have only this to say: Whatever. All the sudden these GMs who deal with a myriad of tough personalities every day are going to be cowed by one more agent that might be difficult to deal with? Again – Whatever. Hell, if anything, McLemore’s management component seems easier to work with – there is a set rookie scale and there won’t be any negotiations of significance for at least a couple of years. This “concern” definitely seems more fiction than fact, with my feeling being that teams lower in the lottery are trumpeting this issue in the hopes McLemore slides & potentially falls into their laps.
With respect to the assertion that McLemore is somehow soft, I can see a bit of fact in that due to times that McLemore seemed to disappear in games this past season. To be fair, it seems this happened for a variety of reasons: a) if you watch the games, defenses are absolutely dialed-in on guarding him, b) it appeared to me that in some instances McLemore was used as a decoy, and c) he was a freshman (red-shirt or not) playing on a starting five with four seniors. Now, I do believe there is a d) of McLemore actually seeming to disappear at times, but quite frankly I’d have a hard time watching all the games of any of the other potential lottery picks in this year’s draft and not finding long stretches of time where they didn’t seem to be exerting their will. Hell, even LeBron James was raked across the coals in this year’s Finals for having an off-night or two. As for whether McLemore is soft, I really have a hard time imagining that someone growing up in poverty as he did is somehow deficient in the “Do What I Need To Do” category.
Watching Ray Allen the past couple of decades in college and the pros (including in person while he was a Sonic), I do think it’s fair to compare McLemore’s game to him. It’s true that McLemore didn’t show that he could consistently create his own shot, but he won’t need to in the NBA. McLemore is an incredible athlete who will have no problem using multiple screens on an individual possession to get his shot. My only knock on him is that he needs to work on getting his feet in place more quickly to be able to take a good shot, but that’s nothing countless hours in a gym with an NBA staff focused solely on his development won’t be able to improve. Even on the defensive end McLemore has been outstanding, and Synergy Sports Technology rates him as a better overall, on-ball defender than Victor Oladipo.
Much like TrueHoop’s assessment, I believe McLemore is the top prospect in this year’s draft and has the potential to be an All-Star caliber player. On that note, KU BALLS is pleased to induct McLemore’s signed jersey & magazines into our hallowed halls. I look forward to watching him in the NBA for years to come.
As a bonus, check out the love for Jeff Withey on Grantland’s YouTube Draft.