September 30, 2016, 9:25 am
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:
Sacramento has been aggressive in trying to move up from seventh in the draft, league sources tell Y! Likely target: Ben McLemore.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 27, 2013
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.
January 26, 2020, 9:37 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal scored at will on Sunday against the Hawks, putting up 40 points (12-of-22 FG, 15-of-18 FT), six assists, three rebounds, one 3-pointer and one steal.
Beal has been on a hot streak over the last three games, topping 35 points in each of them, while averaging over 22 shots a night. He is presumably feeling well-rested after missing several games to start the month. The only worry for Beal's owners is his long-term health at this point, he had been a warrior in prior seasons, and it would be great if he does not miss any games down the stretch. If you have any concerns now is a good time to sell.
January 26, 2020, 9:29 pmDavis BertansF, Washington Wizards
Davis Bertans struggled from deep on Sunday against the Hawks, going 2-of-9 from 3-point range, but still put up 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block.
Bertans cannot be stopped. His versatility to bring a handful of rebounds, assists, steals and blocks makes him an easy mid-round value. His role should be secure whether or not Thomas Bryant's minutes rise. Bryant still started ahead of Bertans, but he only received 18 minutes, during which he registered 11 points and five rebounds. The minutes should go up with time for Bryant, just hang in there.
January 26, 2020, 9:28 pmJA MorantPG, Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant made 8-of-18 shots from the field an 7-of-11 from the line to end Sunday night's win over the Suns with 23 points, five rebounds, eight dimes and one steal.
Shooting inefficiency and 3.0 turnovers per game have kept the rookie Morant outside the top-230 in 9-cat over the last week. While that may not be pretty, he's still oozing with potential and is someone to watch down the stretch. Once the game begins to slow down for him more and more, Morant's lines should be far more fantasy-friendly than they are now.
January 26, 2020, 9:23 pmKyle AndersonSF, Memphis Grizzlies
Kyle Anderson drew the start for the Grizzlies on Sunday and brought his unique stat set to the table, recording 12 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and six points on 2-of-5 shooting in 29 minutes.
Anderson has not been right this season, mostly slowed by injuries. His 29 minutes tonight is a good indicator of improved health as well as his solid performance off the glass. Until he shows up more, Slow-Mo remains just an ultra-deep-league asset.
January 26, 2020, 9:22 pmTroy Brown Jr.SF, Washington Wizards
Troy Brown was good for 19 points (7-of-11 FG), three rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers on Sunday versus the Hawks.
Brown has been struggling offensively of late, and it would have been nice if he filled out this line with some steals or blocks. He has some talent to elevate his appeal as the season progresses, but things are crowded in the Wizards' lineup right now. They are hanging around the playoff race to a degree, which could limit Brown's ability to bust out into a larger role. Jordan McRae is one of his main competitors for minutes, and tweaked his ankle towards the end of the game, leaving him day-to-day as a result. Before going down he was having a strong showing with 12 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal.
January 26, 2020, 9:18 pmDillon BrooksSF, Memphis Grizzlies
Dillon Brooks did it all for the Grizzlies in a 114-109 win on Sunday, chipping in across the board with 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting with five rebounds, four assists, two 3s, three steals and two blocks in a team-high 36 minutes.
Wow. Brooks has truly come into his own this season and has emerged as a burgeoning two-way player. The 3-and-D wingman is just inside the top-120 value range in 9-cat, earning him end-of-bench status in standard leagues.
January 26, 2020, 9:15 pmElfrid PaytonPG, New York Knicks
Elfrid Payton did it all vs. the Nets on Sunday, totaling nine points, nine assists, three rebounds, one 3-pointer, one steal and one block.
Payton remains a great resource for assists, and he is now bringing healthy doses of steals and blocks to the equation. The jumper is good enough for now, and he clearly has won the point guard battle in New York. He deserves to be owned in 12-team leagues at this point.
January 26, 2020, 9:11 pmMichael Carter-WilliamsPG, Orlando Magic
Michael Carter- Williams benefitted from a bit of garbage time in Sunday's blowout loss to the Clippers and was able to provide a team-high 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
MCW was able to record seven rebounds, eight assists and one 3-pointer to round out his line for the night. He has some fringe value in 16-teamers, especially during this time that D.J. Augustin is sidelined with an injury.
January 26, 2020, 9:07 pmJulius RandlePF, New York Knicks
Julius Randle had a strong showing on Sunday with 22 points, 15 rebounds and one block against the Nets.
This is Julius Randle we're talking about, so naturally, his line had some issues, including 10-of-22 FG, 2-of-4 FT and six turnovers. Randle will be a roller coaster to own, but you simply take the strong counting stats and assume he will be a pain on your percentages. Markieff Morris also helped guide the Knicks with 21 points, four rebounds, one 3-pointer, one steal and one block. Morris puts up less flashy rebound and assist totals, but he carries the solid percentages that Randle lacks.
January 26, 2020, 9:04 pmNikola VucevicC, Orlando Magic
Nikola Vucevic had an off Sunday night as he struggled with both foul trouble (six fouls) and poor shooting (5-of-15 from the field) to finish with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
It was simply not Vucevic's night. This low-end performance is pretty much close to his floor, so a bounce-back game should be in the cards.