Sacramento Kings fans are a touchy group. They are used to chaos, disappointment and loads of failure. So when their prized first-round selection looks a little shaky in summer league, doubt begins to creep in.
After McLemore’s first two games in Vegas, doubt turned to panic for many: 25 total points on 8-for-35 shooting from the field and 2-for-18 from 3-point land is not good. Again, it’s just summer league and he had to go against two players with NBA experience, but 23-percent shooting is alarming.
Two games is not a big enough sample size to judge shooting form, but there are other red flags that have reared their head for the 20-year-old St. Louis native.
In game No. 3, McLemore broke out for 26 points on 8-for-14 shooting and he hit three of his six 3-point attempts. He was also more aggressive, getting to the line and hitting all seven of his free throws. His confidence grew and his numbers climbed.
But game No. 4 was a disaster. Not only did the Kings lose 92-54, but McLemore was 0-of-8 from the field, turned the ball over three times and scored just a single point in 21 minutes of action.
McLemore can shoot. It’s not going in during Summer League, but he has an incredible lift and a smooth, balanced stroke off the catch-and-shoot. He is extremely active on the offensive end, running off screens until he finds an opening a la Reggie Miller. With real big men, setting real picks, the rookie out of Kansas will be a weapon.
On the defensive end, McLemore is long and athletic. He needs to increase his steal numbers and stay in front of his man a little better, but for a rookie playing with a new group of players for the first time, he didn’t look half bad.
Hold onto your hats Kings fans. McLemore came into the draft with a rap as player that was not selfish enough. Through four games, he has hoisted 57 shots and many of those weren’t even close. Shot selection will work itself out, especially with DeMarcus Cousins on the floor.
Where the real concern lies is with McLemore’s ball-handling and hands. Maybe it was first time jitters, but this kid has dropped passes and rebounds and turned the ball over 14 times in pretty limited minutes. He needs to hire a skill coach today. If opposing defenses have keyed in on Jimmer Fredette‘s handles, they will be relentless with McLemore. As of today, his ball-handling is not NBA ready.
Finally, in 115 minutes, McLemore failed to hand out a single assist. That’s fine if you are bombing away and hitting your shots at a reasonable clip, but at some point, you have to look to your teammates, regardless of who they are and make them better.
McLemore was supposed to be ready to contribute right away, in a similar way that Thomas Robinson was supposed to last season. But it is clear that he is a work in progress and not ready to start game No. 1, at least not yet.
It doesn’t help that the Kings are the youngest team in Las Vegas and they don’t have a single player with NBA experience. McLemore will look better alongside true NBA talent, but just how better is a big question.
He is an incredible athlete with a smooth shooting touch, but he also looks a lot more like Jermaine Taylor or Brandon Rush than he does Ray Allen at this point. Like everything else in Kings’ world, McLemore is going to need patience and time to develop. But that doesn’t mean that fans can’t be a little concerned. So where is your worry level?