Ray Allen talks to teammate Dwyane Wade during a break in action against the Sacramento Kings. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)
Ben McLemore doesn’t mind the comparisons to Ray Allen. In fact, he embraces them. The Sacramento Kings’ 20-year-old rookie has a sweet-looking form to his jumper that’s drawn connections to the future Hall of Famer.

“I definitely was looking forward to going up against him and just being a part of something that I always (dreamed of),” McLemore said of facing off against Allen for the first time in his career two weeks ago. “I actually try to model my game, model my shooting abilities just like him.”

Allen is well aware of the comparisons as well, and he likes what he’s seen so far out of the Kings’ rookie guard. Before last week’s game against the Miami Heat, we caught up with the two-time NBA champion to get his thoughts on McLemore.

Allen discusses what’s impressed him about McLemore’s game thus far.

He’s a jump shooter, first and foremost. He looks like, I haven’t seen him a lot, but every shot he takes, it seems like he duplicates the first one to the next one to the one after that. He stays consistent in how he puts the ball in the air. He has great athleticism, and he uses it on his jump shot and most players now in the NBA don’t do that.

For someone his age, McLemore has phenomenal shooting mechanics. However Allen isn’t surprised by this, noting that it’s not rare for young players to have good fundamentals if they’ve learned the game the right way.

We’re creatures of habit. When you play sports a certain way, it’s hard to change who you are. So, he has great athleticism, (but) you can tell whoever taught him young kept him in great form with how he shoots the ball. It really has nothing to do with age because if you’re taught the fundamentals of the game when you’re 15, you’ll shoot the ball the right way – the way you’re supposed to be (shooting). It’s just we’re so surprised (when) we see players come to the NBA, professional players that don’t have the skill-set or the fundamentals that we know we should be seeing.

The fundamentals are lacking in our young kids growing up because the programs don’t exist as much they did when I was growing up. Kids are playing more AAU.  They’re not working on those fundamental things about shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding, boxing out. So they come to the league and you see certain guys that just don’t have the fundamentals.  They have raw talent.

During the Kings’ first meeting with Allen’s Miami Heat, McLemore was on the receiving end of a vicious dunk by four-time MVP LeBron James. The Kings rookie didn’t let that get him down and proceeded to have a good game individually (20 points on 8-of-13 shooting) against the Heat. Allen doesn’t believe McLemore’s resilience to play on after being posterized by James is any special indicator for future success. Instead, he believes McLemore has to attack each day with consistent dedication to reach his NBA ceiling.

No, I don’t think it has to do with anything. He got dunked on.  LeBron dunked on him – that will be a story he’ll tell when he gets old. When he gets old, people will rib him a little about it, but it should never affect how he plays the game. He’s a professional.  He gets paid to do his job. And the fact that he’s young and he’s talented, he knows he still has a lot to prove. So it’s up to him (to decide) what type of career he wants to have and how focused he is to continue to get better every day.

Other than on the court, McLemore has yet to formally meet Allen. He hopes to speak soon with the 10-time NBA All-Star off-the-court about becoming a better pro.