Trail Blazers

Hello Portland: Introducing Ben McLemore

Trail Blazers

Coming out of Kansas in 2013, Ben McLemore was viewed as a prospect with tremendous upside. It seemed like he had a little bit of everything as a two-guard. From his size at 6-foot-5, to his shooting, ball-handling, and having a penchant for scoring efficiently.

In his lone season as a Jayhawk, he averaged 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds on 49.5% shooting, 42% from three, and 87% from the free-throw line.

It seemed McLemore had the makings of being a borderline or legitimate All-Star. Garnering comparisons mostly to Ray Allen and occasionally J.R. Smith and Jason Richardson. All three of the aforementioned were elite two’s in their day and could light up the scoreboard and throw down when needed.

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What was a dream for many, and likely for McLemore himself, never came to fruition.

In Sacramento, they tried to make it work for his four seasons, but he never panned out. Instead, he became the opposite of what many believed: a role player.

There’s nothing wrong with being a role player. The toughest part about the draft process is the hype and expectations that follow touted high schoolers and college prospects into the league. 

For so many prospects, like McLemore, reality sets in that they will never reach that level of their sport and that’s fine. He’s just an example of why it can be difficult to predict who will truly become a star at the pro level because so many controllable and uncontrollable factors are at play.

 

In five seasons with the Kings, McLemore averaged 9.0 points.

Moving on from his Kings stint, he’s made appearances with the Grizzlies, had a good opportunity with the Rockets, and is coming off a half-season with the Lakers.

As for his fit with the Blazers, he’ll more than likely be asked to space the floor. 62.9% of his shots last season were catch-and-shoot, shooting 37.1% on those actions.

The team will need to play him with another playmaker whether it’s Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, and maybe even Anfernee Simons. McLemore’s shots came on zero dribbles 70.8% of the time a season ago.

Unless head coach Chauncey Billups gets creative with his usage of him, McLemore’s job is to space the floor and be as effective as possible hitting the three.

For his career, McLemore, 28, is averaging 8.9 points on 39% shooting and 36.8% from three. 

Although he never became the star many pinned him to become, the eight-year veteran has found himself a niche as a floor spacer and a guy who can enter double-figures on occasion. Showing rare glimpses of who scouts and analysts thought he would evolve into.

Part of lasting in the NBA is accepting your role and becoming an All-Star in it. McLemore has shown the last few seasons he’s more than capable of that.