The Cavaliers will have the first pick and the 19th pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 27th. Today, we profile Ben McLemore.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Ben McLemore
Weight: 190 lbs.
Honors: 2013 All-America 2nd Team, All-Big 12 1st Team
2012-2013 Per Game Stats: 15.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 49.5 FG%, 42.0 3PT%, 87.0 FT%
NCAA Tournament Stats: 11.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 34.4 FG% in three NCAA Tournament Games
Ben McLemore has been rumored to be in consideration for the top pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers. McLemore is definitely worthy of this consideration, as he is a top athlete and a player with a ton of potential who many other teams, were they to get the number one pick, would definitely consider. There’s a lot to like about Ben McLemore, but with Dion Waiters already on the roster, picking McLemore would meet some big-time criticism from Cavs fans. Regardless, let’s figure out what exactly McLemore has to offer.
McLemore is a pretty good athlete for the shooting guard position. He has a vertical leap of 42 inches, is really fast and has great strength for a guard, which he uses to play solid defense, get rebounding position and finish in traffic and on the break. He also has a 6’8” wingspan, which helps his defensive potential when combined with his quickness. Athletically, McLemore stacks up with the best of today’s shooting guard crop and doesn’t really have any physical holes. He could stand to add some weight to his frame, but at 190 pounds, he should still be able to hold his own.
A lot to like here. McLemore has the prototypical offensive game for a shooting guard, and is able to do a lot of things well. McLemore has great shooting mechanics and should have no problems scoring from outside at the next level. He’s a great free throw shooter and nailed 42 percent of his threes last year, and McLemore is solid in catch-and-shoot situations. He’s not the best at creating off the dribble or pulling up for jumpers, but that should come as he blossoms into a more confident scorer. McLemore does succeed often on straight drives to the hoop, where his speed is excellent for blowing by defenders, but he’s not creative enough, and his left hand isn’t developed enough, for this to be a regular part of his offense just yet. McLemore does thrive on fast breaks, where his abilities to get to the rim and his speed make him a dangerous finisher. He’s also an underrated playmaker, putting up 2.2 assists per 36 minutes with his adept passing skills and never passing up an opportunity to find a teammate with a better look than he had. That skill is going to bode well for him at the next level and makes him more versatile. Overall, the only real hole in McLemore’s offensive game is his abilities creating off the dribble, and I think that will improve as he develops. McLemore has a high ceiling as an offensive player.
McLemore has the tools to be a great defensive player. His length and quickness give him excellent potential as a perimeter defender, and he already is a fantastic defender off the ball. He is great at getting in passing lanes and disrupting an offense. He’s also a solid defensive rebounder, averaging about four boards per game and using his length and leaping ability to battle with bigger players for boards. However, there are some holes here. Like Anthony Bennett, McLemore’s effort is not always there defensively. He struggles to handle crafty guards on the ball and really isn’t good at preventing drives to the basket. This could partly be because he could rely on Jeff Withey to rotate over and save him, but it’s still a bit of a problem. McLemore also is inconsistent with his closeouts, which is a shame because when he does a good job of closing out on a shooter his length is very bothersome. A lot of this is coachable, as McLemore’s defensive stance leaves a lot to be desired, and the effort problems are fixable. The tools are definitely there for him to be a factor defensively, but until he learns to be more active on the ball, and give a better effort, he’s going to struggle on this end.
We’ve discussed the effort problems on defense, but there are larger intangible issues here with McLemore. McLemore sometimes can be really passive offensively, preferring to let other teammates take over even when he has it going. Sometimes this is beneficial; like the North Carolina game in the NCAA tournament when McLemore started off ice cold and let the offense run through a scorching hot Travis Releford. Other times, like that atrocious TCU loss, where Naadir Tharpe somehow took 15 shots for Kansas and made two of them, it was not as beneficial. McLemore needs to become more confident in his abilities at the next level because he has the tools to be a top option offensively. However, mentally, I don’t think he’s quite there yet.
I think a nice expectation for McLemore is Brandon Roy-level production. Roy and McLemore have similar abilities and athleticism, although McLemore’s knees appear to be made of real ligaments and cartilage instead of dried noodles and paper mache, so that’s more promising for him. I think eventual 23/4/6 per game production from McLemore isn’t necessarily far-fetched, although I will say that McLemore is a lot further away from where Roy was when he came out of college, which is to be expected, as Roy played all four years at Washington. McLemore hopefully will be able to emulate that production level eventually, and I think he has a chance to be an even better three-point shooter than Roy was.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
I don’t think he does, for several reasons. First, the Cavaliers already spent the fourth pick in last year’s draft on an offense-focused shooting guard in Dion Waiters. While Waiters had a rough first year, he’s 21 and nowhere near his ceiling as a player. To take McLemore would be disastrous for both players’ growth, as it would force both players to try to live up to expectations now, as opposed to taking time to grow and mature into productive players. Also, if the Cavs take McLemore, that would be a total neglect of the needs of the roster. The Cavs need a starting small forward, a rim-protecting big and a backup point guard. The Cavs solve none of those issues if they take McLemore, AND create a logjam at shooting guard. McLemore doesn’t make any sense for the Cavs, even if he is a great potential talent. They’re better off drafting Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo or even Alex Len.