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Morning Conversation: Ben McLemore is playing the best basketball of his career


Kimani Okearah

When the Sacramento Kings drafted Ben McLemore in 2013, I was mostly fine with the selection by default. It was a weak draft, and McLemore had been projected to go inside the top-5 for most of the season, so when he dropped the Kings at #7, I had an overwhelming feeling of sure, why not?

To this point in McLemore’s 3.5 year NBA career, he just hasn’t been very good. He’s sort of been the definition of the he’s got all the tools cliche. Everything looks great on the surface. Pretty shot, great athlete, hard worker, good attitude, defined position, etc. If he could just put it all together!

After 3.5 years of unquestionably bad basketball, Ben McLemore is playing good basketball! Is this a real development, or just a hot streak? He’s gone on minor hot streaks before, although for whatever reason, this one feels a little bit more legitimate.

The Kings need him. That alone gives this particular stretch of solid basketball a little more legitimacy. It’s not garbage time. It’s not the end of the season. It’s not against bad competition. The Kings have a ton of injuries, they are desperately trying to make the playoffs, and Ben McLemore is playing the best basketball of his career. I could not be more happy for him, despite how little I’m buying in to this being who he is now. I’m not going to fall into that trap. I’ll acknowledge his much-needed excellent play, but we’re going to need to see more. A lot more.

In 6 February games, McLemore is averaging 13.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists on .467 shooting from the field, and .500 shooting from three in 30 minutes per game.

This post isn’t so much about McLemore’s future with the team, although that is a very interesting topic that probably deserves a serious conversation if he continues to put up these kinds of numbers. But this is more of a public display of happiness. I’m so happy for Ben. I’ll be even happier for him if he keeps this up, but we’ve watched his struggles so closely here over the course of his career, I’d call it the ups and downs of being a young NBA player, but for Ben, it’s been nearly all downs. Multiple coaches, a serious lack of leadership, confused roles, confidence issues, etc. Struggles on top of struggles on top of struggles.

So good on you, Ben. Keep it up.