Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (6’4” 200) [2/11/93]
A late bloomer in high school and a late bloomer at Kansas, Ben McLemore has burst onto the scene in both capacities. McLemore was a high-school phenom in St. Louis but didn’t come onto the recruiting scene until he transferred to Oak Hill and became a top-25 recruit. In a similar fashion, he redshirted his first year at Kansas and didn’t play until this year when he started. Despite being a late bloomer, McLemore is now a likely top-5 pick and a possible #1 pick.
Athletically, McLemore has elite tools. He is a well-built shooting guard with long arms, quick hands, quick feet and elite athleticism. McLemore can jump out of the gym and is quite the explosive player. This athleticism allows McLemore to affect many facets of the game and play bigger than this size. He has the frame to contribute in the NBA right away but still put on weight without affecting his athleticism at all. He is a very smooth athlete that it often looks effortless to see him play.
On offense, the first thing that stands out about McLemore is his efficiency. For most of the year, he has been a 180 shooter (50FG%, 40 3PT%, 90 FT%), which is quite rare at the NBA level. It speaks to his jump shot, which is the strongest part of his game right now. Whether it’s in spot-up situations, coming off screens or in transition, McLemore is a deadly shooter. The mechanics, form and rotation on the shot is picture perfect and reminds many of Ray Allen.
In relation to his shooting, he is most effective right now playing off the ball. He is one of the best players in the draft at understanding how to move without the ball, create space for himself and getting into positions that allow him for easy shots. He is also very effective once he gets into transition where his athleticism is put on full display.
McLemore is mainly a perimeter-based player; he shots as many 3’s as free throws and doesn’t get to the free-throw line too much (about 5 per game). This is largely due to his role in the offense and development as a player. Right now McLemore as an on-ball player is not nearly effective as an off-ball player. McLemore is actually a very good passer and his basketball IQ is on display with the ball in his hands. But his inability to consistently create is the main thing holding him back. He hasn’t yet developed advanced ball-handling moves or shown the ability to break down defenders and get to the rim. McLemore can get into the lane on straight line drives, but his efficiency is mixed once he gets into the lane. He is also still a work in progress with shooting off the dribble, where is not as effective as he can be.
On defense, McLemore projects to be a good defender at the NBA level. He is protected at Kansas with his role on the team but his tools shine through. He is an extremely good rebounder for a wing; he has good instincts in the passing lanes and will block a fair share of shots due to his athletic ability.
While McLemore might not be a lockdown defender, he shows the tools to be a good on-ball defender. He has the size, athletic ability and build to hang with any of the shooting guards in the league. He will likely be able to play small forward in small ball lineups as well. McLemore will need to show better focus off the ball but has the basketball IQ to improve in this area as he matures.
Off the court, McLemore is a clean prospect that shouldn’t have any problems at the NBA level. He is a very good kid who is a hard-worker. He also doesn’t have an injury history and should get a clean bill of health.
McLemore has the potential to develop into a premier scorer in the NBA level but will need to develop his ball-handling skills to reach his ceiling. He will also need to answer questions about his killer instinct and ability to handle the scoring load of a top-tier scorer. He has been thrust into the forefront of the Kansas offense with mixed results at times.
McLemore has been a quick riser and should continue to rise with his mix of athletic ability, skills, and character. He projects to be a very good scorer at the NBA level with the ability to come in and help a team immediately on offense. He might be the closest thing to Ray Allen that has come out in awhile.