Ben McLemore can't wait to leave the Vegas heat.
His shooting has withered under the desert lights. Ben shot just 29 percent in the Summer League, a figure that not onl ydisappoints given his talents. Its a figure that only tells half the story. Just a week ago i lamented that McLemore KINDA delivered on the hype in his debut. But the truth is you must not put a lot of stock into these four games. It is Summer League after all and anyone can have an off-night as McLemore had in two games, but this is where as a Coach you're able to say 'hey hike up some shots tonight, lets see if we can get your stroke going.'
But that's only if the shots are going in to begin with.
Tonight McLemore again silenced my second-guessing in the second half. Ben has a knack for turning it on in a hurry. I watched the first half thinking, wow, this guy is shooting some serious bricks. As a matter of fact McLemore finished that first half going 1-9, disgusting, i said as the second half began.
Suddenly, McLemore got an easy layup, then made some free throws, next thing you know he's staring down defenders and getting the three off. Then he absolutely posters Mike Scott in the third quarter with a thunderous dunk. This guy went OFF in the second half, he erased any doubt and criticism i had going coming out of the half.
And that's pretty much how it's gonna be. The talent is undeniable if not spotty. Regular minutes will be a challenge but at the NBA level, McLemore couldn't have asked for a better supporting cast and system. This is a team that doesn't need Ben to be the savior, and this team already has a [scowling] face of the franchise in Cousins.
DeMarcus who attended the game and held a very awkward interview with NBATV told sideline reporter Stacy Paetz that he "sent a text to him [McLemore] the other day, just told him keep shooting, it'll come". And the Kings hope that it does. The new regime's first draftee fell to the Kings at number seven but the team believes they ultimately got who they wanted.
McLemore should be a solid option coming off the bench this season, which makes me wonder if the team or ownership has a place for Marcus Thornton. With McLemore and McCallum added to the backcourt it becomes a jumbled mess with Thornton and McLemore splitting minutes. Thornton was already in reserve mode going back to last season but this season Thornton becomes one truly expensive bench player.
Another factor that could help nurture the transition is Assistant Coach Chris Jent, whose work with LeBron James among others is widely credited with improving shooting form. I get the feeling McLemore is a quick learner and definitely seems to have a dedicated work ethic. This kid has the tools, a toolbox in complementary point guards and a system of coaches around him that is vastly improved from the Maloof regime.
If there's one thing i learned with this final Summer League game is that Ben McLemore may miss a few shots, but he's a true shooter, he may be asked to rein it in come October but that's unlikel.
Mike Malone knows he's got a special talent. Ben needs the ball, he can shoot. Try and debate that and watch McLemore explode for 14 points in a quick flurry.
Trust me, don't second guess Ben McLemore anymore. Speaking from experience, he'll make you look foolish.