There is no question that Sacramento Kings rookie Ben McLemore was one of the most talented players in the 2013 NBA Draft. In shocking fashion, he slid down to the seventh pick where Pete D’Alessandro, Mike Bratz, Chris Mullin, Michael Malone and Vivek Ranadivé were waiting with champagne bottles and high fives. This was the guy that the Kings wanted and they landed him a draft day coup.
While McLemore didn’t exactly blow up for the Kings’ Summer League team in Las Vegas, there is still plenty of time for the 20-year-old from Missouri to get acclimated to the NBA game. Most likely he will start the season backing up veteran shooting guard Marcus Thornton and competing for minutes with Jimmer Fredette, but nothing is written in stone.
He will have to fight for playing time, but the rookie out of Kansas is still confident that he can be a factor in the Rookie of the Year competition.
“I feel I’ve been through a lot,” McLemore told Gary Bedore of KUsports.com this week at coach Bill Self’s basketball camp. “I feel I am going to work hard to get Rookie of the Year. I know the mindset I’m going to come in and show everybody I could be the alpha dog and win that Rookie of the Year. I’m definitely going to work hard to get that.”
With plenty of guards on the roster, coach Malone might get creative with his line-up on occasion. McLemore is a natural fit next to new point guard Greivis Vasquez, but he is more likely to start than come off the bench. We may see a few three-guard sets and as the season wears on, McLemore’s role is bound to increase. But he is going to have to develop quickly and fight hard to earn minutes if he wants consideration as the NBA’s top rookie.
Coming into the draft, McLemore looked like one of the league’s most prepared rookies. With this being a weak draft class, anything is possible. How do you see this playing out?