Editor's note: This article is part of a continuing series in which Insider Bill Herenda highlights a different Kings player every day leading up to the 2014-15 season opener on Oct. 29
Contract status: Signed through 2017-18, team option 2015-16, 2016-17, qualifying offer 2017-18. (Selected by the Kings in the first round -- 7th overall -- of the 2013 NBA Draft out of Kansas)
2013-14 year in review: McLemore averaged 8.8 points per game while shooting 38% from the floor and 32% from three-point range, and appearing in all 82 games. He started his rookie season in strong fashion earning Western Conference Rookie of the Month in November, averaging 9.1 points per game. McLemore reached double figures in 33 games, including three games where he had 20 or more. He also went for a career high in points, scoring 31 with five assists in 42 minutes versus Phoenix in the season finale on April 16, 2014.
2014-15 Outlook: There are a few ways that NBA teams improve: The draft, free agency, trades and skill development. Perhaps no one on the Kings roster can benefit as much from skill development as McLemore. The rookie struggled due to the Kings' lack of ball movement. They were last in the NBA in assists per game in 2013, as the stagnant offense exacerbated McLemore's inability to create off the dribble.
McLemore is the quintessential one-and-done college player possessing freakish athleticism but lacking the requisite fundamentals that a four-year college stint can reinforce. Accordingly, his ball handling and feeding the post -- in addition to shooting -- also suffered (38% FG% and 32% 3FG% last season).
Head coach Michael Malone says frequently that, as a coach, he’s a “teacher.”
The goal must be to leverage McLemore’s unquestioned athleticism, and for the game to slow down with on-the-floor awareness -- on both ends of the court. Improvement from him is needed, and not just offensively. The Kings are eager to channel McLemore’s massive talent on the defensive end of the floor to bolster Sacramento’s quest to turn around a porous defense.
This is clearly a high risk, high reward for Sacramento, which invested the seventh pick in the 2013 draft on him.
There have been high points though: November Rookie of the Month; 31 points versus Phoenix; his role on the Kings’ NBA Summer League Championship team; slamming over Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal at the Slam Dunk Competition.
One of only five returning players from last year’s Kings training camp, McLemore will compete for minutes with first-rounder Nik Stauskas at the shooting guard spot. And don’t be surprised if Malone plays two point guards on the floor simultaneously, e.g., Ramon Sessions and Darren Collison -- or slides Rudy Gay to the two-spot if McLemore doesn’t improve and Stauskas isn’t ready.
The opportunity is there for McLemore to thrive, and like the long list of questions regarding Sacramento, one remains: Will McLemore realize his full potential?
C Sim Bhullar
G Deonte Burton
F Omri Casspi
G Darren Collison
C DeMarcus Cousins
F Reggie Evans
F Rudy Gay
C Ryan Hollins
G Trey Johnson
F Carl Landry
G Ray McCallum
G Ben McLemore
F Eric Moreland
G Ramon Sessions
G Nik Stauskas
F/C Jason Thompson
F David Wear
F Derrick Williams