Kansas' McLemore 'more athletic Bradley Beal'

Kansas' McLemore 'more athletic Bradley Beal'
June 23, 2013, 12:00 am
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On June 27, the Wizards will take part in the 2013 NBA draft. Currently the owner of picks 3, 38 and 54, the franchise could go in almost any direction with those selections - including trading them - as Washington attempts a sincere playoff push.

Washington's primary needs, some of which can be addressed during free agency, include adding overall scoring punch, finding a power forward with perimeter touch, a long-term answer at small forward, plus backups for John Wall and Bradley Beal. Between now and the draft, we’re going to identify some of the players the Wizards might target whether the team stays pat or moves around in the first round with analysis from coaches, scouts, beat writers and national analysts.

Up next, Kansas guard Ben McLemore. Check below for a running of list of all our draft profiles.

Ben McLemore, Kansas

Draft Express overall ranking: No. 5

Height/Weight: 6-4.75, 189 lbs (combine data)

Key stats: 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists in 2012-13  

The player: Think a leaner Bradley Beal with a better vertical leap, but that same knockdown shot. As a freshman, McLemore led the Jayhawks in scoring, posting at least 20 points on 11 occasions including a career-best 36 against West Virginia on 12 of 15 shooting . The 20-year-old sank 5 of 6 3-pointers against the Mountaineers and 42 percent of his shots from beyond the arc overall (by comparison, Beal shot 33.9 on 3-point tries during his lone season at Florida). While there were high-scoring games, McLemore also had his share of disappearing acts; he scored five points against Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. Eight days later, he went 0 for 9 and scored two points against North Carolina in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.  The same year Beal, his AAU teammate, played for the Gators, McLemore was ruled academically ineligible and spent the 2011-12 season at Christian Life Center. One more comparison: McLemore jumped 42 inches at the combined compared to 39 for Beal. 

The fit: By drafting McLemore, Wizards coach Randy Wittman would always have a dynamic perimeter backcourt threat on the court. Washington tied for last in scoring last season and ranked 18th with 6.6. made 3-pointers per game. Thinking big picture, a player with McLemore's shooting stroke and scoring potential would have tremendous value in the trade market should he deliver on his promise. He's long been projected to the Orlando Magic with the No. 2 overall pick, though that has more to do with McLemore's upside than a specific need with Central Florida franchise. 

The issue: Speaking of on the court, the primary concern centers on McLemore's assertiveness. Despite his obvious talent even on a Kansas team loaded with other notables and future NBA players, he often faded into the background for stretches or entire games. As for the Wizards, seeing as they already have Beal - and Wall - drafting a third guard with the third overall selection screams luxury. While three-guard/small ball lineups are all the rage, drafting into that scenario is unwise especially for a team with several long-term issues in the frontcourt. Neither Beal nor McLemore currently has the size to defend many NBA small forwards.

Beal's buzz: "Ben is super athletic, can shoot the ball," Wizards guard Bradley Beal said near the end of Washington's season. "He's definitely going to have a lot of success. He's more of a two-guard now. In high school, he was more of a three. Now he's shooting the ball tremendously. He's definitely going to fill up the scores for somebody next year."

The analysis (as told to CSNwashington): 

NBA Scout: "I like McLemore better [than Beal] because he's more athletic. Basically, in my reports I describe McLemore as a more athletic Bradley Beal. They both have pure jump shots. Similar to Beal in college, McLemore played on a veteran team, was probably the best player, but probably deferred too much to some of the veteran guys. Still put up big numbers. Still issues about his assertiveness or lack thereof.

Jeff Jones, Old Dominion head coach (faced McLemore and Kansas last season while at American): "He's got all the physical tools. The bottom line for him, if someone is going to use a high draft pick on him, does he have that star mentality to be one of your main guys. Based on reading and hearing about him, I don't know if that's his natural mentality. He's a guy that is a little bit unassuming, but he certainly has all the tools. ...(In general, can you change a player's drive?) It depends on why is that the case. Is a player deferring to older teammates, you might understand that as they're trying to be a good teammate. That's not a bad thing. If they don't like the pressure, if they don't want to be in the spotlight that could potentially be an issue."

Rob Dauster, CollegeBasketballTalk.com/NBCSports: "I think his ideal role at the next level is being kind of what Ray Allen was when he was with the Celtics. Stay outside, knockdown 3's, spread the court for you. We're not talking ceiling because he's got talent for days, but I don't think he's ever going to be a go-to guy. ...I don't get the feeling that he has a ton of confidence outside of being able to jump and being able to shoot. He played power forward for a while in High School. It took him a while to transfer out to the perimeter. You can see he's not completely comfortable putting the ball on the floor. Hopefully that will come in time with the work he puts in the gym, but I don't know if he'll ever gain that confidence and be more  than a one-dimensional player in the NBA. Perhaps the biggest thing is last year was the first time he ever had to be top dog on a team. In AAU, he had Beal and (Butler guard) Roosevelt Jones. At Oak Hill Academy, he also played with a loaded roster...I think McLemore is less assertive than Beal, who always struck me as a guy who could do more than just shoot."

The summation: The debate about whether McLemore shooting skills and athletic potential will rage on leading into draft night. It's a good one with interesting points on both sides of the passive/deferential - but it's not one the Wizards should enter in the context of the No.3 pick. That is unless the decision makers believe McLemore ability is the clear-cut best among the available options. Even then, based on the current roster and other draft options with immediate and long-term positional benefits, the difference must be rather large to make such an unorthodox selection.

NBA Draft profiles:

Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana

Glen Rice Jr., NBA D-League/Georgia Tech

Mike Muscala, F, Bucknell

Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

Tony Snell, SF, New Mexico

Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown

Lorenzo Brown, PG, NC State

Alex Len, C, Maryland

Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, SF/SG