There was once a time where former Kansas Jayhawks guard Ben McLemore seemed a lock to either go number one or number two in the draft. Now the issue may be in doubt.
ESPN’s Chad Ford has McLemore going fifth to Pheonix Suns, and Ford sounds like he wouldn’t be surprised if McLemore fell a little bit further.
McLemore remains in the top 5, but I’m starting to have my doubts. I love the talent. But his lack of preparation for the draft is hurting him. Multiple sources told me that his workout in Phoenix was not impressive; he wasn’t in shape, and he struggled to keep up in the workout. I heard similar things in Orlando. McLemore is in a tug-of-war right now between adviser Rodney Blackstock and his agency Rivals. It’s kept McLemore out of the gym and for the most part, out of workouts. How much will all of this affect the draft stock? I’m told teams are worried.
Now, this could be some smokescreens sent out by general managers to muddy the waters. And the NBA is also notorious for draft-day trades, so it could be some posturing in creating value for the spot if there is a team who wants to swing a deal to move into the top five to land McLemore if he falls.
But it wouldn’t be surprising if the reports Ford is hearing are 100% true. McLemore, whose AAU coach will be interviewed by the NCAA for taking money from an agent, has been heavily labeled as a kid who has allowed others around him to have too much say in how he should handle things. His inability to manage the people around him may cost his a spot in the first two draft picks, which is sad.
(Note: The following is pure speculation. You’ve been warned.)
If you are into wild speculation with zero basis in fact or reality then consider this theory: McLemore’s “out of shape” issue may be on purpose. McLemore would be in a better position to succeed as a player if he were to end up with a team who has an established star, and tanking the workouts may be a way to ensure he ends up on a team that has one.
As Ford said, teams love McLemore’s athleticism and talent, but are concerned he may not have the mentality to be the guy on a team. A more established team could provide a better environment for McLemore to develop in while also being a significant part in making their team better. Teams like Chicago, Oklahoma City, Atlanta, and Boston could be looking for the type or production McLemore could bring without having to worry about him being the guy the whole offense flows through.
Additionally, McLemore doesn’t really fit any of the teams in the top five of the draft. Nerlens Noel seems to be a lock to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando is looking for a point guard, Washington is looking for an inside presence, Ford says Charlotte is between Anthony Bennett and Alex Len, and, well, you read what Pheonix thought of McLemore.
If McLemore falls to the Sacramento Kings at seventh overall then things could get interesting. Sacramento just hired a general manager on June 17, well after all of the workouts were conducted. Trading the pick could net them some badly needed established NBA players and/or future draft picks for when they are better prepared to make a pick.
This could put teams like Oklahoma City (12th and 29th picks) or Atlanta (17th and 18th picks) who could trade up for McLemore. Another possibility may be the Chicago Bulls who could use a pure outside scorer to compliment Derrick Rose and the inside presence of Joakim Noah. There has been some talk of Chicago moving Luol Deng which could be a key piece in acquiring a pick high enough to land McLemore.
This theory is outrageous, I know, but so is the NBA/NBA draft where insanity reigns. Teams drafting at the top are looking for franchise players, and if those teams don’t see McLemore as a franchise player then the potential of McLemore dropping out of the top five is not out of the question.