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Could Kansas' Ben McLemore Go #1?

Wed, 12/26/2012 - 9:32pm

Ben McLemoreBen McLemoreTwo weeks ago we placed Kansas 2-guard Ben McLemore above Shabazz Muhammad and #3 on the 2013 mock draft and many scouts thought it might be a little high. No other draft prognosticators even had him projected in the lottery. Some had him in the late 20s, while others had him in the late teens. Over the past two weeks, McLemore has lived up to that early projection and now the question has turned to whether he could go #1 overall.

Wings going first are extremely rare, as only three have gone first overall in the past 40 years (LeBron James, Glenn Robinson, and David Thompson) and no shooting guard has gone first overall in the past 30 years. If you consider Thompson a SF, it has been over 40 years since a 2-guard went first overall (Austin Carr in 1971).

The shooting guard position in the NBA is an unusual position. With numerous athletic wing players over the NBA landscape recently, one would be forgiven to think that the two-guard spot is the deepest position in the league. In fact, this is far from the truth. The number of elite shooting guards can be counted one hand; Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and James Harden. That’s a grand total of 3 elite players. Shooting guards on the level beneath all seem to come with a disclaimer:

Joe Johnson - Being paid like a superstar, but clearly not on that level and past his prime.
Ray Allen - Nearing 40 years of age and is now essentially a spot up shooter.
Monta Ellis - Explosive but does not make his teammates better and oft injured.
Eric Gordon - Talented but apparently extremely injury prone..
Manu Ginobili - Often injured and seemingly reaching the end of his career.
Paul George - Very young, has a long way to go and more of a SF.

To approach this from another angle, if an NBA team has an all-star player who plays the shooting-guard position, that team will have a substantial advantage over nearly the entire NBA. That old saying “they don’t grow on trees” could not be more appropriate. The lack of quality NBA shooting guards essentially raises the value of those position players in the upcoming drafts.

McLemore happens to be a player who fits the prototypical two-guard position. The freshman has the size and skills to be a difference-maker on the next level, and has quickly shown off his vast potential in his short collegiate career. With a silky jump shot and the athletic ability to excel at the NBA game, McLemore seemingly has all the tools one could want in a two-guard.

You can add Kansas University head coach Bill Self to the list of believers. “He’s good. I mean, he’s as talented as just about anybody we’ve had come through there.” That’s high praise from a man who has coached the likes of Deron Williams, and when someone like Bill Self makes such an endorsement, people should take notice.

Ben McLemoreBen McLemoreSo far this season, McLemore has averaged 16.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 2.3 APG. These numbers continue to rise as he acclimates himself to the college game. After sitting out last year due to academic ineligibility, the red-shirt freshman has exceeded expectations and is set to continue the trend. His efficiency is off the charts. He's just 4 points away from being in the 180 club, with his FT (86), FG (49) and 3p (41) percentages totaling 176.

Aside from his efficiency, what makes McLemore such an impressive prospect is his versatility on both ends of the floor. His athletic ability enables him to move his feet quickly on the defensive end to handle small guards, and his 6’5 body and frame will enable him to defend bigger guards. On the offensive end, the combination of his shooting touch and his ability to penetrate the lane by using his athleticism will allow him to build an inside-outside game that will make him a threat from all parts of the court.

When one takes into consideration that an undersized SG like (6'4) Bradley Beal went No.3 in last year’s draft, the sky is seemingly the limit for McLemore, who is taller, more athletic and arguably a better shooter than Beal (a former teammate from St. Louis). A Kansas trainer first compared him to a young Ray Allen, and that appears to be a very accurate comparison. Like Allen, McLemore is silky smooth in his ability to spot up and pull up off the dribble.

If McLemore can continue his rate of improvement and learn how to further impose his will on the game, by the time draft day rolls around, anything is possible. In a draft with no clear cut #1 pick, a shooting guard such as McLemore has a legitimate chance to be the top overall pick, something we have not seen in 40 years.

i'm jus so offended
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I don't know, I would say

I don't know, I would say that Allen Iverson was a 2 guard and he was drafted back in '96 soooo...yeah. Just sayin'

Lindsey
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AI was drafted as a pg who

AI was drafted as a pg who every one slowly came to realize was much more valuable getting straight buckets off the ball. An just cause we have a lack of elite 2's in the L, does not mean Ben should be # 1, or that he will reach that level. I bet an elite 2 comes out of last years draft also.

Wahoo757
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No

If a shooting guard were to go number 1 in the upcoming draft, it would be Shabazz, and even he has to contend with some pretty talented bigmen: Noel, Zeller, and Len.

Scotty5000
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Goodwin

I see Goodwin being up there before the season is over.

druneave3
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Yes

With no clear #1 pick, that is who I would go with this year. Shabazz is talented but I just never liked him and thought he would not make a team better, similar to Joe Johnson. Cody Zeller is soft, doesn't rebound well, and will struggle to finish at the next level. I would give Noel a shot over Zeller but not sold on him either.

Two things concern me regarding McLemore though. His demeanor on the court, and his ability to create his own shot. He seems to lack that killer instinct like Mike, Kobe, LeBron, and other greats. Almost seems to nice of a guy despite his semi-troubled past.

Despite these things I would still give him a chance compared to others in this weak group. He is still raw and has a lot of room to grow but has the potential to be a great player.

druneave3
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Yes

I have been wanting to move him to #1 a month ago but the website has been acting strange and won't let me edit my draft.

Taylor Gang Mike
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Yeah i see Ben going number

Yeah i see Ben going number 1, hes had to pass o. He has all the tools, i want to see him take people off the dribble more, but it will come. Remember ET went number 2, hes a SG. but Ben is gonna be good, hes to intriguing to pass on. You can build around him

HotSnot
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I love McLemores shooting and

I love McLemores shooting and athletic ability. Those are the 2 hardest traits to pair imo. I'd take my chances that Ben can round out the rest of his game to compliment his strengths.

tbp82
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The drought will continue

At the end of the day teams fall in love with size and potential. Whoever gets No. 1 will convince themselves you can't pass on Noel. Unless another big makes a huge run to the top in the second half of the college season.

tbp82
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Not ready to count out

Anthony Bennett-he's about the size of an Elton Brand while underzised he's been productive.

Isaiah Austin-almost 7 footer who's had a few double doubles recently if he can show some production in Big 12 play wouldn't be surprised to see him shot up the boards.

TheGeraldMan
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The League Has Evolved

McLemore is an incredible talent, with amazing potential. But I tend to think that the reason he won't go number 1 is due to the fact that the L is evolved.

The SG position is only in demand as a spot up shooter. Now, we rosters with superstar athletic PG's, and 6'8" - 6'11" SF's that shoot, dribble, and even pass.

Gone are the days of the prototype that Michael Jordan created (6'6" athletic 2's), Kobe's retiring, Dwyane's not the same, and the rest don't quite have has much impact as the Durants and LeBrons of the world.

pete_newell
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Its all coming to end next year...

Andrew Wiggins will end the drought or if Jabari Parker one and done's it, the drought will come to an end. IZM

Scott42444
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Yes, Wiggins will end the drought...

...next year for sure. I am a Chicago guy and LOVE Jabari Parker as a player. But, if Wiggins doesn't go #1 I will be shocked! I also will laugh at anyone who doesn't pick him or Parker #1, but I would consider Jabari more of a SF like Carmelo. Wiggins though is such a beast. When I watch his highlights, it's like that Cell Phone commercial with the football player who does that in-air sommersault. "HELLO". There are about 10 of those on every highlight video I watch of Wiggins and it took A LOT for me to take Jabari Parker out of the top spot. 2014 looks like it could be another 2003, in my honest opinion. The Harrison twins, Randle, and any of the Top 10 1-and-dones who "shock the world" like Harrison Barnes and stay for a second year (like Dwyane Wade in 2003, or Carmelo and Bosh being college players in a High School draftee loving NBA at the time). Of course, we still have 2 whole March Madness tournaments to get through and we all know how that can change the entire outlook. Seth Curry, anyone?

ecuhus
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DO NOT DRAFT BEN #1

KU fan here. I feel I can add some perspective to this topic.

First let me say that I LOOOOVE what McLemore has done so far this season. Last year, if the NCAA didn't handpick Ben out of 1000 other incoming athletes with a checkered HS transcript, we might've knocked off UK. Of course I'd love to see him stay for a 2nd year; but I don't want anyone to think my viewpoint is skewed because of this.

I have a simple question for all of you: would you take Latrell Sprewell #1 in the draft? Because THAT'S what Ben is, minus the crazy. I could see him putting up 21/5/3 with (good defense and tenacity) in his prime, and he may even become a 3- or 4-time All-Star like Spree. But isn't the bar for a #1 pick just a little bit higher? At worst, Noel is Amar'e. Zeller has a Brad Daugherty-esque ceiling.

At the top of the draft, all things being equal, you gotta go big over small. You're going to whiff in some Bowie/Jordan and Oden/Durant situations, but those have more to do with injuries and other unforeseeable variables.

I do agree that McLemore sits at the top of a pretty impressive SG class. Shabazz projects as a Glen Rice / Jamal Mashburn type IMO, a chubby gunner that doesn't impact the W/L column as much as you'd like from a #1 option. Goodwin has tools, but he seems more of a 6th man extraordinaire to me. Smart is a Foye-ish combo guard, but he'll probably sink more than swim if he has to play SG full-time.

4thInfsgt
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Wing players drafted #1 overall

You forgot James Worthy, Mark Aguirre, and Larry Johnson.

Scott42444
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@ecuhus

I appreciate everything you say, but calling Nerlens Noel "At worst, Noel is Amar'e" is a joke. I think that the guy is pretty good and will MOST LIKELY be a Top 5 pick barring a catastrophic mistake on Noel's part (meaning, he would have to get injured or get into legal trouble). Just to be sure, I even checked the scouting report on this very website. His defense seems to be the #1 skill set NBA GM's will be focusing on. Amare is not a defender who learned a post game. He came into the league as a scorer and he will leave the game as a scorer. Defense is not his strong suit. If Noel becomes the scorer that Amare was when he entered the league, I will NEVER post on this website again. I have been coming to this site since the early 2000's since I am a Bulls fan and we had quite a few high picks throughout the 2000's after the championship run of the 1990's so I DO NOT want to stop posting. But, let's be honest, you are either unappreciative of what Amare was able to do when he still had knees or you are WAY TOO HIGH (figuratively and possibly literally, lol) on Noel.

But, of course, I can be wrong (and I have been quite often, you should have heard the words I spewed about Joakim Noah when the Bulls drafted him! I was not happy, but I am glad that I was dead wrong)

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