How Ben McLemore ranks in the Pacific Division

Ben McLemore questions a call against him while playing the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Billy the Kid outgunned experienced Western rivals by trusting his aim and instincts. Now Ben McLemore stands in his shoes as he attempts to shoot his way through a Pacific Division filled with some of the game’s best gunslingers.

Here’s how McLemore compares with his fellow Pacific starting two-guards.

*MPG = minutes per game, PPG = points per game, APG, assists per game, RPG = rebounds per game, SPG = steals per game, TPG = turnovers per game, PER = player efficiency rating

**Statistics in italics are Pacific Division leaders.

Ben McLemore – SAC

Career stats: 26.7 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 1.0 APG, 2.9 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 1.2 TPG, 7.7 PER

2013-14 stats: 26.7 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 1.0 APG, 2.9 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 1.2 TPG, 7.7 PER

Outlook: McLemore was set to take off after replacing Marcus Thornton in the starting lineup seven games into last season, but struggles on both sides of the ball led to a demotion 26 contests later. He eventually regained the job and finished the year on a tear, so it’s reasonable to expect luck to lean in his favor a little more this upcoming campaign. McLemore features a sweet stroke and the explosiveness to dunk in traffic, but his positioning on defense will be a focus for the coaching staff.

Eric Bledsoe – PHO

Career stats: 22.0 MPG, 14.2 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 2.2 TPG, 15.2 PER

2013-14 stats: 32.9 MPG, 17.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 3.3 TPG, 19.6 PER

Outlook: Bledsoe’s five-year, $70 million extension in September isn’t so much a risk for the Phoenix Suns despite his small sample size. “Mini LeBron” lives up to the nickname as a demigod athlete, most remembered by his blocks in pursuit and punishing drives. The 6-foot-1 combo guard has expanded his range to the 3 in the past two years, filling the remaining hole in his glistening toolset.

Kobe Bryant – LAL

Career stats: 36.6 MPG, 25.5 PPG, 4.8 APG, 5.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 3.0 TPG, 23.4 PER

2013-14 stats: 29.5 MPG, 13.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 5.7 TPG, 10.7 PER

Outlook: The most polarizing star in the league appears healthy and hungry to prove to the world he hasn’t lost a step. The 36-year-old still possesses a chilling midrange fade and a seductive pump fake, but his sporadic defensive efforts won’t cut it with new coach Byron Scott, and he may have to reinvent himself as more of a distributor. Bryant is easily capable of 10+ assists a night if he so chooses.

J.J. Redick – LAC

Career stats: 22.8 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 2.0 APG, 1.8 RPG, 0.4 SPG, 1.0 TPG, 14.1 PER

2013-14 stats: 28.2 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 2.2 APG, 2.1 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 1.2 TPG, 16.6 PER

Outlook: Forever known as the man compared to and drafted after Adam Morrison, Redick has slowly but surely developed into a bonafide NBA guard and a perfect-fitting piece in the Los Angeles Clippers’ puzzle. Hollywood gave him a chance last season when the career bench player became a full-time starter, allowing the 30-year-old to showcase his dead-eye aim off screens en route to statistical personal-highs. Redick doesn’t create his own looks and his deficiencies are masked with the help of his floormates, but this was all part of the master plan.

Klay Thompson – GSW

Career stats: 32.4 MPG, 16.0 PPG, 2.2 APG, 3.1 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 1.7 TPG, 13.8 PER

2013-14 stats: 35.4 MPG, 18.4 PPG, 2.2 APG, 3.1 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 1.7 TPG, 14.3 PER

Outlook: While it’s absurd for a 6-foot-7 scorer to draw two free throws per night for his entire career, the younger “Splash Brother” is an elite 3-point shooter (41 percent career accuracy) and he knows it (41.8 percent of his NBA field goal attempts). Thompson is an active and prideful defender too who was the Golden State Warriors’ top stopper before Andre Iguodala’s arrival. There’s still much room for improvement in his game.

The West is stocked with shooters. Where do you rank McLemore?

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About: Rui Thomas

Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.