• Ben McLemore will always hold the distinction of being the first player drafted by the post-Maloof Kings, and at the time represented yet another positive sign of things to come for the organization.

    Going back three years to the night of the draft, Kings fans had just pushed their way through yet another relocation attempt, with this one having a much happier ending than the ones before.  The promise of a beautiful downtown arena and the promise of a new ownership group committed to building a contender around DeMarcus Cousins added to the already exciting reality that was the Sacramento Kings staying the Sacramento Kings.

    That night, the Kings had the opportunity to select Ben McLemore, whom many thought was slated to go much higher than 7th overall, potentially even going in the top three.  According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski that day, the Kings may not have thought that he would be available either:

    So the excitement continued. New arena, new owners, new commitment to Cousins, and now a new young player that many thought wouldn’t be available when the team was supposed to pick.  McLemore was known as a terrific shooter and an elite athlete, so it’s not hard to see why there was so much hype surrounding him.

    Most players entering the draft are expected have their faults, and McLemore is no exception.  He struggled in college to create his own shot, and disappeared at times in the offense — two things that Kings fans have witnessed regularly.  Issues like this can be corrected,  but it takes dedication from both the team and the player to facilitate growth.

    The Kings have yet to put McLemore in a true position to succeed.  Since he was brought in the team has fired three different head coaches, and turned over the roster at an unbelievable rate.  Many of McLemore’s issues are rooted in his lack of confidence, and the Kings have failed to put him in a proper situation to fix this.

    His second season actually showed quite a bit of promise, and built a lot on his sub-par rookie season.  Going into this past season, many Kings fans were hoping that Ben would finally take the next step and finally start to tap into the potential that landed him in the lottery in the first place.

    Last season was decidedly worse than his second season in the league.  His production dropped off across the board, and he was somehow behind Marco Belinelli in the rotation, who shot below 40% overall during the season.

    This is very characteristic of McLemore’s tenure with the team.  Many felt that the team had reached with their selection of Nik Stauskas, and yet the team still chose him just one season after drafting McLemore.  Then, after trading Stauskas just one year into his rookie deal, the team signed Marco Belinelli and gave him the starting job at shooting guard, and continued to play him over McLemore despite incredibly disappointing performances all year.

    None of this helped with his confidence issues, and for a team that wasn’t even in contention, none of it really made that much sense.  Ben wasn’t a sure thing heading into any season so far, but without a truly competitive team, why risk his development so early?

    A closer look at last season for McLemore shows some of the inconsistency that he had to deal with. I broke his season down to groups of ten games each to see how his season progressed, and found that there was very little correlation between his performance and his playing time.

    In Ben’s first ten games, he shot less than 40% overall, 6.1 points per game and just 16.9 minutes per game.  Despite this tough stretch, his minutes increased dramatically over the next ten games, going up to just over 24 per game, and his field goal percentage went up to a respectable 44.2% overall.

    The next ten games his minutes decreased, while he shot 57 % overall and an incredible 50% from three-point range.  His minutes dropped very little, but with this type of steady improvement, you’d like to see the organization reward him with more minutes and more consistency, especially when there aren’t better options available.

    It’s not hard to see how this can be both frustrating and confusing for a young player trying to find some traction to get his career started.  McLemore has shown enough to get another chance in the rotation, and when looking back at his past seasons, it’s easy to find reasons to be optimistic moving forward.

    This season represents the team’s final chance to develop McLemore the right way.  Dave Joerger has history of connecting well with players, and the coaching staff has already shown some confidence in their young shooting guard.  McLemore told Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee that “he’s had nothing but ‘positive vibes’ from the coaching staff.”

    Joerger’s experience with Courtney Lee may prove to be very valuable as well.  McLemore would be wise to try to emulate the production that Lee provided for Memphis, and the Kings would be very happy with that production considering their reported interest in Lee.

    The Kings should give McLemore every opportunity to win the starting job going into next season.  Afflalo isn’t the future at shooting guard, and Richardson will likely have no shot at winning the starting job on opening night.

    The Kings have yet to show much interest in developing McLemore, but they have one more season to change that.  He still has a ton of potential, and considering the position that the team is in, they would be foolish to not give him one more chance to capitalize on some of it.

     

     

Fantasy News

  • Vincent Poirier
    C, Boston Celtics

    The Celtics have announced the signing of Vincent Poirier.

    Poirier joins the Celtics after six professional seasons in Europe and is believed to be on a two-year deal. Last season he averaged 10.5 points (61.6 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 blocked shots in 73 games between EuroLeague and Liga ACB competition. Poirier figures to be battling Daniel Theis and Robert Williams for playing time behind Enes Kanter and doesn't have much fantasy appeal.

    Source: Boston Celtics

  • Ben Simmons
    PG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Ben Simmons has agreed to a five-year, $170 max contract extension with the Sixers.

    The Sixers reportedly offered up the deal a couple weeks ago and the sides have been ironing out the details since. It's not surprising that things resolved quickly, and Philly wasted no time in giving Simmons huge money. He's a jump shot away from being truly elite. For fantasy purposes, until we see Simmons either hit some threes or improve his free throw shooting, he remains a prime over-draft candidate. The stat set holes are simply too impactful to select the talented young guard before the third round.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • William Howard
    F, Utah Jazz

    The Jazz have a verbal agreement to sign French forward William Howard, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

    Howard is a 25-year-old from Montbrison, France who spent the last two seasons with Limoges in France's LNB Pro A. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 threes per game, shooting .411 from the field in 24.9 mpg. While last season saw Howard post career-low marks from deep, he is a .364 3-point shooter across five seasons in the LNB Pro A. It's unlikely that Howard plays much for the Jazz this season.

    Source: Eric Walden on Twitter

  • Wesley Matthews
    SG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Michael Scotto of The Athletic is reporting that Wesley Matthews' deal with the Bucks is for two years and $5.3 million, with a player option on the second season.

    Matthews was initially reported to be heading to Milwaukee on a one-year deal for the minimum, and that may still essentially be the case given the likelihood that Matthews opts out if he has a strong season. Either way, it's a nice piece of business for the Bucks, who get a 3-and-D wing player at a very affordable price. Matthews is shaping up as a low-end source of threes and steals, as he typically does.

    Source: Michael Scotto on Twitter

  • Andre Iguodala
    SF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Shams Charania is reporting that the Clippers and the Rockets are the two teams still "strongly pursuing" Andre Iguodala in trade talks.

    Charania adds that the Mavs and the Nuggets have also engaged Memphis but those discussions never gained much traction. The Rockets are hesitant to increase their tax bill while the Clippers don't want to part with Moe Harkless, who is the only player on the roster that represents a salary match. If either of these two teams wants to execute a trade, it looks like it will require another team.

    Source: Stadium on Twitter

  • Alize Johnson
    PF, Indiana Pacers

    The second-year option for Alize Johnson has been fully guaranteed.

    Johnson, who put up an excellent performance at Summer League, will make $1.4 million this season. He is unlikely to play much but the Pacers have been consistent in their view that he is a player worth developing over the long-term.

    Source: Indianapolis Star

  • JR Smith
    SG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Cavs are expected to waive J.R. Smith on Monday if no last-minute trade emerges, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

    It would be shocking if someone went out and traded for Smith, who will be guaranteed $4 million of his $15 million salary. The Lakers have already been mentioned as a potential landing spot, and Smith doesn't figure to have a ton of teams eager to sign him after the way last season went off the rails.

    Source: Joe Vardon on Twitter

  • Duncan Robinson
    F, Miami Heat

    The Heat will be picking up Duncan Robinson's $1 million guarantee for the upcoming season.

    Robinson played well throughout Summer League and will now officially be on the roster. He only appeared in 15 games last season, and although he's showed some promise Robinson will likely need another trade to go down to open up a serious shot at playing time.

    Source: Tim Reynolds on Twitter

  • Henry Ellenson
    PF, Brooklyn Nets

    Henry Ellenson has signed a two-way contract with the Nets.

    Ellenson left the Knicks in Summer League due to personal reasons, but the former lottery pick has resurfaced with the other New York team. He'll give the Nets someone who can provide stretch four play in a pinch, but odds are he'll spend most of his time in the G-League. Time is running out for Ellenson to establish himself as an NBA player.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Anthony Davis has decided not to participate in Team USA training camp and has withdrawn from FIBA World Cup consideration.

    Davis has chosen to spend his offseason preparing for what he hopes is a championship run with the Lakers this season. AD is still a go for the 2020 Olympics and he'll be at training camp to support his teammates, but he won't be on the court with them. At least he's well-versed in that move from his days with the Pelicans.

    Source: Yahoo Sports