Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore is having a great February. He has scored in double digits in five of the Kings six games this month, something he only did six times between the start of the season and the end of January.
McLemore has looked comfortable on the floor, is not rushing his game and is knocking down his shots with confidence. Not only that, he has done it relatively consistently over the last two weeks. As Tony pointed out, McLemore is playing as well as he ever has in the NBA with the trade deadline quickly approaching, and his name being floated out there. This month, he is averaging 13.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals.
Following the Kings 105-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday, McLemore spoke to Sactown Royalty about his recent surge, trade rumors and what he thinks about the Sacramento community.
You have had a really good February. What has clicked for you offensively this month?
Just staying ready and going out there and playing my game, and do whatever it is on both ends of the floor to help my team in the game. And then just playing with confidence. My confidence is on a different level right now and I've just got to continue to do whatever I’ve got to do.
You mentioned your confidence being on another level right now. Is that a result of something somebody talked to you about?
It's just all within me. Continuing to work on my game, keep doing what I got to do, being aggressive and staying ready.
There was that stretch at the end of January on the road when you didn't play in six straight games. Did that sort of light a fire in you?
I didn't take it as nothing. Like I said, I continued to work my butt off.
Consistency is something you have tried to work on over your career. In your opinion, what does it take to be consistent in the NBA?
It's all in your mind. It's a process. Just have to stay mentally ready, I think that's the key.
Does it go back to confidence?
Absolutely. It started at Kansas – when your coaches have confidence in you, your teammates, it goes a long way throughout your career and in your game.
Would you say you have had that from your coaches here? This is your fourth season here now and there has been a lot of coaching changes.
It's up and down man, over the past years and having different coaches and different ways they play and how they want to play, who they want to play, and different sets. So I always just try to stay ready.
In terms of some of the different sets you have dealt with, have the coaches you have had here wanted you to play differently or has it always been 'you are a shooter, get out there and knock down your shot'?
Different things, absolutely, I think different coaches want me to do different things. Whatever it is to help my team and help us win games. I know what I can do out there on the floor.
You have really cut down on your turnovers this season (0.8 per game). I know ball handling is something you have tried to improve throughout your career. Have you made turnovers a focus this season?
Absolutely, I think that is something that I don't want to do. I don't want to turn the ball over ... And hey, if I do turn the ball over it's next play. So I just got to stay ready and keep the confidence high like it is and keep the flow.
With the trade deadline coming up your name has been out there. You have been through this before, but does it get it you? Are you able to tune it out?
I continue to work on my game, work on myself and let my circle and my agent (Rich Paul) handle things like that.
You have been around DeMarcus Cousins more than I think anyone else in the locker room. What has he meant to you and what have you learned from him?
Just being a big brother to me, helping me understand and learn the game, and get it going out there, believing in me. That's one person in this room I have been around for four years now, I've got a great relationship with and he wants to see me do good and he wants me to go out there and play the best I can and be aggressive.
When you came into the league you probably had different expectations for how things would turn out. What have you learned about being in the NBA?
It’s a business. At the end of the day, it's a business and I can only control what I can control ... I got to go out there and do what I got to do, play my game and have fun playing the game of basketball.
You have lived in this community a while now. What do you think of the area? Do you consider it home?
Absolutely. I got drafted here. I consider it home. At the end of the day, it's a business where things happen around the league every day so I can't focus on things like that. I just have to continue to focus on me and moving forward and letting my circle handle whatever situation there is.
What do you think of the fans in Sacramento?
The fans have been great. We have the best fans in the world and they are going to continue to support and love us, and keep pushing us.