Better Know a Prospect: Ben McLemore, G, Kansas

Jamie Squire

Ben McLemore landing in New Orleans next week would ostensibly require (a) a draft day stock drop similar to the one Thomas Robinson suffered a year ago and (b) a suspension or, at the very least, some mild dilution of the Eric Gordon experiment. Of late, an increasing number of mocks have suggested it as a possibility.

Bio: Ben McLemore was born in 1993 in St. Louis, Missouri. Skilled at basketball from a young age, McLemore attended three different high schools in three different states before rising to national prominence while at Christian Life Center in Texas.

Eventually recruited to Kansas, the combination of McLemore's varied high school record coupled with academic eligibility issues forced him to miss the entirety of his freshman season. Kansas did allow him to practice with the team during his second semester, but McLemore wouldn't make his debut until fall of 2012, as a redshirt freshman. On the strength of his first season, he quickly rocketed up from late first-round projection to top-5 talent.

Stats: Shooting stands out immediately -- McLemore converted on 87% of his free throws and 42% of his threes, and it's easy to see where the Ray Allen comparisons derive from (even if the comparison of a college player to Ray Allen is a little misguided). Kansas certainly took advantage of this, bring him off screens and curls, though McLemore was a lot less successful in off-the-dribble situations.

His success from the line and beyond the arc translated into remarkable overall efficiency; his 1.20 points/possession mark ranks among the top figures for top lottery prospects, and coupled with close to 20% usage, McLemore played a strong offensive role for one of the country's top offenses. But given his relative inability to manufacture his own shots, it's clear that Bill Self's* system played a big part in creating that impressive efficiency mark.

*Bill Self smells like eggs.

McLemore's 4.7 defensive rebounds per 40 min. (pace adjusted) shows potential for future development in the area, and his 0.16 turnover rate isn't too shabby given the usage rate; again though, the issue of Self's system is a creeping one that simply can't be dissociated from McLemore's actual abilities.

Skills: McLemore carries arguably two plus NBA skills into the draft -- shooting and athleticism. While his wingspan measurement at last month's combine wasn't ridiculous (6'7.75"), his 42" max vertical gives credence to the idea that he can develop into a lethal finisher in the lane. Whether he'll be able to get into the lane consistently without another guard creating for him is another question altogether, but even in recent NBA seasons, we've seen players like Paul George develop dribbling games significantly after entering the league.

McLemore's defensive potential is undeniable. He moves his feet well, is relatively strong, and should be long enough to deal with bigger NBA shooting guards. It feels like a number of this draft's top tier players project to be 3-and-D types, which is somewhat depressing, but at the same time, a really great 3-and-D player can be a critical 3rd piece; McLemore can certainly be that player.

Conclusion: I'd be surprised at this stage if McLemore actually dropped down to the 6th pick, but the draft is obviously an inexact science. If the Pelicans do have a decision to make with McLemore on the board, it could well prove to be a referendum on the Eric Gordon era.

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