Ben McLemore: Phoenix Suns 2013 NBA Draft profile

Posted by on June 12th, 10:14 am


Ben McLemore has the skill set to be a great scorer in the NBA. His best weapon is his picture-perfect jump shot. He has both a quick release and deep range. Combine those with his 42-inch vertical leap, and you get a player who can get a great look from nearly anywhere on the court. No matter the situation, McLemore can find a window for his jumper, even if that window opens and closes quickly. This year at Kansas, he shot 42 percent from downtown on nearly five attempts per game.

When driving to the basket, his agility and explosive first step make it very difficult for defenders to stay in front of him. Despite attempting so many threes, McLemore still shot nearly 50 percent from the field so he is very efficient inside the arc as well. Much of those attempts came in transition. He’s very fast and very smooth in the open court. He finishes well on the run and isn’t afraid to be unselfish and find open teammates on the break.

Though he stands just under 6’5” in shoes, McLemore still averaged better than five rebounds per game, indicating he uses his leaping ability and quickness to his advantage on the boards. As a defender he has great potential because of his length, quickness and desire. He fights over picks willingly and could be an excellent on-ball defender in the pick-and-roll. He doesn’t always translate his potential to results on the defensive end, but under the right NBA coach, he could be a very good perimeter defender.

Question marks

McLemore’s biggest flaws are the same as most 20-year-old prospects. He needs to add muscle and maturity. He’s a bit undersized for an NBA shooting guard, but he can certainly make up for that by getting stronger and using his athleticism. From a maturity standpoint, scouts have been pleasantly surprised by his honesty in interviews, though that honesty may end up costing him some money. Most scouts are of the opinion that he does not yet have the killer instinct necessary to be an elite scorer in the NBA. Whether or not he can develop that is anyone’s guess, but unlike his shooting guard counterpart Victor Oladipo, McLemore is not cranked up to 11 every minute he is on the court.

Both offensively and defensively, McLemore can disappear and seem uninterested for long stretches of games. This was most evident in Kansas’ second round NCAA Tournament matchup with North Carolina. McLemore played 24 minutes and scored just two points. The NBA schedule is a tough grind and a top-5 pick will have to learn very quickly how to bring it every night. This apparent lack of motivation or passion is the biggest question surrounding McLemore.

Offensively, his deficiencies are mostly related to ball handling. He’s not a bad dribbler, but he’s not great either. He’s also not a great shooter off the dribble. This can make him a bit one-dimensional and make it easier for defenses to contain him.

Creating shots for himself is definitely not McLemore’s strength as he was used primarily as a spot up shooter and cutter at Kansas. He will certainly have to develop that part of his game and become adept at running pick-and-roll if he is to excel at the 2 spot in the NBA.

The final knock on McLemore is that he doesn’t draw fouls. The worst shots he takes are often short floaters he opts for instead of getting all the way to the hoop in traffic and drawing contact. With added strength and confidence, he may be able to better absorb contact and thus not be reticent of finishing at the hoop.


At one point not too long ago, McLemore was challenging Nerlens Noel for the projected No. 1 pick, and he was a shoe-in to be a top-5 pick. He was rated as a better prospect and projected as a higher in the draft than Oladipo. But thanks to bloggers like myself gushing about Oladipo since April, his stock has skyrocketed while demand for McLemore has cooled. Oladipo’s stock has risen because he has fewer question marks around him and should be able to contribute right away. McLemore has fallen because of the immaturity and lack of consistent aggression I talked about earlier. Pundits still believe McLemore has one of the best offensive skill sets in the draft, but teams have been burned by star prospects who didn’t have the mental makeup necessary to translate their games to the next level. And some teams have soured on him because he’s refused to work out against Oladipo and Shabazz Muhammad. My feeling is that McLemore and Oladipo will flip flop in mock drafts right up until draft day, but they’ll both go in the top-5.

How would he fit with the Suns?

He’s a scorer with all-star potential. The Suns don’t have any players like him. If Phoenix selects him at No. 5, he’ll get a chance to play a significant role right away. It’s unclear whether that’s something McLemore is ready for, but he’ll definitely get a chance to work out the kinks and develop as a player nevertheless. Phoenix is firmly in the clutches of rebuilding, and I suspect that will provide him with a long leash.

McLemore would fit nicely in the Suns’ backcourt next to Goran Dragic. They both love to run in transition, and McLemore’s speed and agility could help him cover point guards who might be too quick for Goran. McLemore’s preference to be off the ball as a spotup shooter or cutter works perfectly with Dragic, who prefers to have the ball in his hands. If McLemore’s three-point accuracy translates to the NBA, he should provide more space for Goran to operate as help defenders won’t be able to sag into the key to keep Dragic from getting to the rim.

Defensively, he’s long, athletic, capable and willing. That’s all the Suns and new coach Jeff Hornacek can ask for at this point.

And 1 … A second-rounder to consider

Ryan Kelly of Duke is someone the Suns could consider with the 57th pick in the draft. Kelly spent much of his final season at Duke hobbled by injury. When he came back healthy however, he was spectacular, particularly in Duke’s win over then No. 5 Miami. Kelly had 36 points and hit 7-of-9 from downtown. Kelly isn’t much beyond a hard-working Dukie and a shooter, but NBA careers have been forged with less. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Anderson with his combination of range and size. There were games this year where he was the most important player for Coach K. That’s a solid pedigree for an NBA player even if his final season was marred by injury. Phoenix could take a flier on Kelly just to see if he could learn from/replace Channing Frye whose health is still up in the air. Kelly’s a floor spacer and big body with a Duke worth ethic. He’s got limited upside beyond a stretch 4, but for where the Suns would take him in the draft, that’s not bad value.

Another And 1

Agent David Falk told the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell that Georgetown small forward Otto Porter will not work out for teams outside the top-3. The Washington Wizards are likely a bet to take him if he falls to the third spot.

Ryan Weisert

Ryan Weisert is a staff writer for ValleyoftheSuns. You can also find him at his sports and pop culture blog

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Tags: Draft · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis

54 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott // Jun 12, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    DX posted workout videos for McL and Adams, for those who are interested.

    One of the bright spots for Adams, touched on in the video interview portion, is that he’s one of the few first round bigs who doesn’t mind contact. That comes from playing rugby as a kid, and the style of basketball played in NZ (where many players are rugby players).

    As for McL, I still haven’t warmed up to him. He’s a top athlete and shooter, but so far as I can see he’s unfocused – kind of like Beasley – and that’s probably a permanent part of his personality.

  • 2 hawki // Jun 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    @ Scott…..agree with you on McLemore….obviously gifted, but something about him makes me wonder if he is worth a really high pick.

    as for Wyatt, sounds like the scouts getting picky…all I know is he was the Player of the Year in a very tough Atlantic 10 League. Maybe he is not NBA worthy but he may make some scouts eat their words.

    as for the prostitution arrest….not the smartest thing in the world to be doing, although personally I don’t think it’s that big a deal….maybe Wyatt should go into Wall Street banking….over there, you can rob the country of Billions of Dollars, and instead of getting arrested… the Govt. actually gives you more money and says “Go ahead, do it again”.

  • 3 frenchysunsfan // Jun 12, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    This is what would be a perfect offseason for the Suns IMO:
    5th pick: McLemore or Oladipo. McLemore would be my favorite as he’s a true scorer but Oladipo seems to have a bigger improvement margin.

    We send Gortat to the Blazers in exchange for their 10th pick.

    10th pick: Plumlee (A real PF/C).

    People say he can’t shoot ? We already have Frye and Markieff Morris who ca shoot from the outside but none of them is able to fight in the paint. Plumlee can do it and he’s a strong rebounder and defender. I know McDonough and Hornacek like Zeller but he would be another shooting PF and I’m not sure he would be much better than Frye or Markieff

    30 th pick: Erick Green.

    Then we get Granger for some players among the Morris twins, Tucker, Brown and Marshall.

    Finally we sign Al Jefferson as a free agent and resign Wes Johnson to a lower salary.

    The roster would be:

    C: Jefferson, Frye
    PF: Plumlee, Scola.
    SF: Granger, Wes Johnson.
    SG: McLemore, Dudley.
    PG: Dragic, Green.

    Plus the guys who wouldn’t have been sent for Granger.
    It would be a young and competitive team that could reach the playoffs quite soon.

  • 4 Suns Fan In Portland // Jun 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    D. Granger’s going somewhere… I’d really love to see him on the Suns or Blazers.

  • 5 Ty-Sun // Jun 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    @frenchysunsfan – I think your plan is a good one IF the Suns just want to make the playoffs next season. But I also think that team would at BEST be eliminated in the second round and have very little upside in the future.

    Granger especially is a “fool’s gold” player that I don’t want to see wearing a Suns uni. He’s a very good scorer but not a great scorer and that pretty much describes his entire game. Jefferson is pretty much the same and Jefferson will be looking for a big payday next season. He probably has 2-3 good seasons left but he made $15 million last year and the Suns would be stupid to pay him anything near that as he will turn 29 midway through this season.

  • 6 Ty-Sun // Jun 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    @Suns Fan In Portland – It’s just my opinion but I think that the best place for Granger is on a team that doesn’t really need him. The Pacers played great without him this season. That should tell you something about how valuable he is.

  • 7 Suns Fan In Portland // Jun 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    He’s a great scorer. I feel like he’d fit in with the Blazers really well, because of his age and his game. The Suns should probably be focusing on younger players, however…

  • 8 Suns Fan In Portland // Jun 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Every team doesn’t have a Paul George either… (Second best thing to ever come out of Palmdale…)

  • 9 foreveris2long // Jun 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    The Suns do not need Granger and Jefferson. Let’s take our lumps again, build through the draft and just maybe we land a decent free agent next summer. This cannot be a rush rebuilt job.

  • 10 Scott // Jun 12, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    As I see it, the Suns missed their rapid rebuild window a few seasons ago. Now they’re stuck with a deep “clear down to the foundations” type rebuild.

    @frenchysunsfan -

    I think your idea is fine, to get someone in the middle who is more of a bruiser. The problem is that Plumlee is not that man. Watch the DX draft video on Plumee. One of his problems is that he shies away from contact, and he’s considered to be not tough mentally or physically. Also, for someone who plays mainly in the paint due to poor lateral quickness, he also isn’t a rim protector.

    So he’s not a good choice for the Suns. A better rim protector would be Dieng, and a better bruiser would likely be Adams.

    @sunsfaninportland -

    Like some of the other folks here, I don’t see the point in taking Granger. I think he’d be disappointed to be in Phoenix as well, with a bunch of young project players and no real chance of going deep in the playoffs.

    A better destination for Granger would be the LA Clippers, perhaps.

  • 11 TheDragon!!!! // Jun 12, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I’m all for Mclemore, the suns haven’t had a star caliber shooting guard since Joe Johnson. Mclemore could turn out to be great. He is like a Ray Allen with a big dunking abillaty. I hope the suns trade to get the 10th pick, because they need to get a new young center. I like Mason Plumlee.

  • 12 TheDragon!!!! // Jun 12, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I’m all for Mclemore, the suns haven’t had a star caliber shooting guard since Joe Johnson. Mclemore could turn out to be great. He is like a Ray Allen with a big dunking abillaty. I hope the suns trade to get the 10th pick, because they need to get a new center. I like Mason Plumlee.

  • 13 Scott // Jun 13, 2013 at 12:19 am

    @TheDragon -

    Ray Allen is a bright guy, driven to win, who definitely has killer instinct. I look at McLemore and I don’t see the same thing.

  • 14 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:23 am

    @hawki: Janet Reno is hoping to take up where your mother left off, steamrollers and all.

    And your federal government is just trying to help you.

    Obama is just trying to run a good administration. He is a simple civil servant who got mixed in at a higher level than he ever intended.

  • 15 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:27 am

    How about Shannon to the Nets in exchange for 20 ham sandwiches and 10 kazoos??????????????

  • 16 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:29 am

    Jason would love to work on Shannon. Oh boy !!!!!!!!!!!

  • 17 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:38 am

    Shannon and 500K to Brooklyn for a bag of Wheaties.

    The 500K gets applied to psychiatric treatments for Kidd to cover for his dealing with Shannon.

    The bag of wheaties can be eaten by a Sarver kid in lieu of whatever unhealthy fattening breakfast food he is eating.

  • 18 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:41 am

    TheDragon is going in full bore tonight. His ideas are definitely better than Blanks.’

    (This is not saying a lot).

  • 19 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Plumlee at 10 is an interesting idea. I can see someone as perspicacious as Oprah Winfrey devoting the full hour to that one.

  • 20 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:43 am

    Go Viacom !!!

  • 21 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:46 am

    McLemore is a midget Joe Johnson with ADD.

  • 22 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:47 am

    How about Shannon and 2 mil. to Cuban for Dallas’ 12th? I hear Cuban needs a new houseboy.

  • 23 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:52 am

    We need to reignite Beasley. Let’s give him a box of Cubans when he shows up at training camp !!!

  • 24 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 2:57 am

    @The Dragon: The “abillaty” of McLemore is an interesting discussion point. Is your grade school English teacher still receiving a salary in Arizona?

  • 25 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Oops !!! Per Babby, we would only exchange Shannon for pastrami sandwiches (heated of course).

  • 26 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:03 am

    I believe McLemore may have a different and better spelling of the word “abillaty” as applied to his skill set. Or at least his agent does.

  • 27 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:05 am

    @Scott: Granger to the Clips is an excellent idea. Then they would have at least 2 players sulking (maybe as many as 4).

  • 28 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:09 am

    I can see McLemore at a whiteboard (LOL) spelling the word “ability” for the benefit of Suns fans. He can use the segment as part of a public service pitch in favor of more funds for K-12 education. Voila, a community-minded athlete is born.

  • 29 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Beasely to the Clips in exchange for Lamar and the body of Del Negro. Solves about 3 problems at once.

  • 30 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:13 am

    I understand that when when the Lakers front office called Miami about the Shaq for Lamar thing, they referred to an oversupply of “brain dead hot dogs” in LA.

  • 31 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:15 am

    We could hire Shannon out to a couple of Hollywood lesbians to cover part of his salary.

  • 32 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Plumlee anywhere in the lottery is an accident waiting to happen. I can hardly wait till the first time he goes against Faried. This will be great TV.

  • 33 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:20 am

    In that situation, Plumlee will make Roseanne Barr look athletic (and believe me, Faried like a lot of guys is scared of getting within smelling distance of Roseanne).

  • 34 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:24 am

    @Scott: Why are you bringing a tone of skepticism and thoughtfulness to this board?

    You are ruining everything.

  • 35 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:26 am

    @Scott: Look, Plumlee’s GF kicks his balls to shit every weekend. I would rather have the GF, and she will come on with a min. salary.

  • 36 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:31 am

    27% from 3. That does it for me. And Alvin did everything he could for him.

  • 37 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:34 am

    @Scott: A good destination for Granger would be the Knicks, since Amare is about to collapse and Carmelo is a hopeless one-trick pony.

  • 38 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Plumlee to the Celts with their pick. A perfect fit !!!!

  • 39 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:41 am

    Roseanne smells like dogshit. I would hate to have to look at her mother.

  • 40 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:49 am

    “TheDragon” is making my 8th grader look like Einstein. Keep this up, and my worthless kid will get a scholarship.

  • 41 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Roseanne to the Celts as Chief Deputy Asst. GM. A match made in heaven.

  • 42 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:52 am

    Ainge would love her and I hear Garnett needs a new bitch.

  • 43 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Roseanne oozes crap from every single pore !!!!!!!!!

  • 44 bill.thomas // Jun 13, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Roseanne ooze sfilthy crap from every single pore !!!!!!!!!

  • 45 Suns Fan In Portland // Jun 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Roseanne would get more boards than the Polish Mallet.

  • 46 Polish fan // Jun 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    You are all weird once you love player and qfter few months u hate him instead. Give people a chance.
    Rolo poor Gortat geat…. Gortat poor ….. And?
    Brown the same and … Dudley…. And Dragic too?

  • 47 Scott // Jun 13, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    @Polish fan -

    Everyone here has different opinions of players.

    I liked Robin Lopez, but under Gentry he just wasn’t getting proper use, so while I would have rather kept him, it’s good that he’s seeing success with another team.

    I have always liked Dragic, and like many fans was upset when Blanks traded him away.

    I liked Gortat when he played for Orlando and was very pleased to see him come to Phoenix. When he was with Orlando, Gortat was much more effective against Amare than Dwight Howard was.

    However, Gortat’s looking to get another long contract, and the Suns are no longer the team for him. He’s better off playing for a team that might contend or is at least further along in the rebuilding process, which the Suns are really only starting on this year.

    I liked Dudley when he played for Charlotte, and I thought he was actually a big part of the trade instead of an accidental bonus … which it turns out he was. Apparently Kerr didn’t know that Dudley was good and only took him because it made the trade numbers work.

    Now Shannon Brown … I haven’t liked him much right along, as a player. If he could get focused and be reliable and fill in some of the holes in his game, he could be an Eric Gordon type player. But it’s not in him. He’s who he is, and while he seems like a nice guy and athletic and talented, he’s just not what the Suns need. I wish him success … just with another team.

  • 48 Ray Ban Wayfarer // Jun 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

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  • 49 Keith // Jun 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    You guys need a spam filter here.

  • 50 THEDRAGON!!!!!!!!!! // Jun 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Bill.thomas and his disrespectful comments are making the manners of a dog look exceptional.

  • 51 THEDRAGON!!!!!!!!!! // Jun 15, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Bill Thomas will be accepting our essays at the end of this class. Please be absolutely certain to dot all I’s and cross T’s, and make certain that punctuation and spelling are correct as he will be grading these with a keen eye. Keep up the good work Mr. Thomas, an apple will be waiting on your desk.

  • 52 bill.thomas // Jun 15, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    @The Dragon: Absolutely get thaT ps/3.

  • 53 bill.thomas // Jun 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm


  • 54 bill.thomas // Jun 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm


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