When it comes to the Sacramento Kings, everyone has a favorite talking point. There's Cousins-Karl, Rajon Rondo, Vlade's ballsy move to clear up space, Vivek's ownership style, and that's just scratching the surface of the last few months.
But why is nobody talking about Ben McLemore?
To be fair, McLemore hasn't done a whole lot to garner national attention. McLemore's rookie year was particularly rough, with his shooting numbers almost historically low for the amount of shots and minutes he got. He was also everywhere and nowhere on defense at the same time. He couldn't dribble the ball if it didn't involve a clear path to the hoop and he could barely finish at the rim if it didn't involve dunking.
Things changed greatly last year. McLemore came back a much more well-rounded player, having worked on all aspects of his game. His True Shooting Percentage (which takes into account 3 pointers) jumped up 7%. He got more creative around the basket: his FG% from 0-3 feet jumped from just 60% to 71.1%. Defensively, he went from a huge liability to one of Sacramento's more enthusiastic defenders, although he still lacked the experience or consistency to be considered a good defender.
Overall, McLemore's sophomore outing was a pleasant surprise for Kings fans, who finally got to see some of the promise that led to his lottery selection. His growth last year is a big reason I'm looking forward to seeing how he comes out of the gates this year, especially since the third year of a player's career is typically where you see a big leap.
McLemore's biggest problem to date has been consistency. We've seen stretches (especially last year) when he couldn't miss and would look like the second coming of Ray Allen... for a quarter. Then he wouldn't score for the next 20 minutes. If Ben can achieve that consistency and become a force on both ends for the entire time he's on the court, or at least most of the time, that's a big boost to Sacramento's productivity from an existing player. It's also a promising sign for Sacramento's long-term future, as the Kings haven't really had a hit in the lottery since DeMarcus Cousins.
There's some promising signs that Ben can make the "third-year leap". For one, he's a notoriously hard worker, even attending Summer League mini-camp this year of his own volition just to be able to work out with the guys. From what I have heard behind the scenes, he's one of the most familiar faces at the Kings' practice facility during downtime. Ben also finally has some veteran mentors to help him and learn from this year, as the Kings added guys like Marco Belinelli and Caron Butler.
I can't wait for October to get here. This has been an exciting summer for Kings fans, as the team has added talent all across the board. If Ben can make the jump himself, that puts Sacramento all the much closer to being relevant once more.