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Player in focus: Ben McLemore - journey in the NBA so far and expectations ahead of joining LA Lakers

Ben McLemore is set to join the LA Lakers for the rest of the season.
Ben McLemore is set to join the LA Lakers for the rest of the season.
Arhaan Raje
ANALYST
Modified 07 Apr 2021
Feature

Ben McLemore was one of the most talked-about players in the buyout market. The veteran guard was acquired by the LA Lakers on 6th April after being waived by the Houston Rockets. He will be playing for the reigning champions till the end of the season.

The LA Lakers will be the fourth franchise he will play for during his seven-season long career. Before joining the Houston Rockets, he previously played for the Sacramento Kings and the Memphis Grizzlies.

After struggling to make a mark in the competition, he enjoyed a decent campaign with the Houston Rockets last season. He was one of the league's best long-range shooters, converting 40% of his attempts from beyond the arc.


Journey in the NBA

Ben McLemore (right) made his debut in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings.
Ben McLemore (right) made his debut in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings.

Ben McLemore was picked no. 7 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.

He played for four seasons with the Kings. His sophomore year was the best season of his career to date, as it saw him averaging close to 12 points per game. He also started all 82 games he played for the franchise that campaign.

Ben McLemore was expected to continue his good work in the subsequent seasons, but things never really clicked for him with the Kings again. As a result, he did not extend his stay with them, signing a multi-year deal in the 2017-18 season with the Memphis Grizzlies. However, he suffered a long-term injury and endured a poor campaign, managing just 7.5 points per contest.

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In the 2018-19 season, Ben McLemore rejoined the Sacramento Kings as a part of a trade deal package that saw the Grizzlies sign Garrett Temple from the Kings. McLemore's second stint with the Kings, though, didn't go to plan; he played just 19 games for them before being waived off. He averaged 3.9 points per game for the Kings that season.

The Houston Rockets signed Ben McLemore in the 2019-20 campaign, a move that turned out to be fruitful for both parties. Ben McLemore was able to revive his career with the Rockets, averaging 10.1 points per contest. He also provided excellent support to James Harden and Russell Westbrook while coming off the bench.

He continued with the Houston Rockets heading into the 2020-21 season before recently getting off. That paved the way for him to join the LA Lakers.

Ben McLemore's NBA 2020-21 season so far

Ben McLemore (right) in action
Ben McLemore (right) in action

Ben McLemore featured in over 30 games for the Houston Rockets this campaign, starting four times. He averaged just 7.4 points per outing, though, while shooting at 35.7% from the field. He scored a season-high 21 points on two separate occasions this season, doing so against the Minnesota Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs.

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However, with the Houston Rockets struggling to win games, it was always going to be tough for Ben McLemore to replicate his performances in the previous campaign.

Nevertheless, Ben McLemore showed glimpses of the damage he could inflict, thanks to his shooting prowess. His last five games, especially, were quite phenomenal. He averaged 12 points per contest, shooting 40% from downtown during that stretch.

Ben McLemore's strengths and weaknesses

Ben McLemore is a tremendous long-range shooter, which is one of his best qualities and greatest strengths. His 2019-20 campaign with the Houston Rockets was a prime example of his strengths, as he averaged 41.4% from the field, which included 40% from beyond the arc.

It was a remarkable achievement, considering he played 72 games that season, averaging 22.8 minutes per contest.

His biggest weakness, though, is that he is a one-dimensional player and isn't as effective at the defensive end. He has averaged 0.2 blocks and 0.7 steals per game throughout his career and is an easy target for other guards to target.

Expectations from Ben McLemore at LA Lakers

Ben McLemore should be able to make the most of this opportunity playing for a contending team like the LA Lakers.

He could address the Purple and Gold's struggles from the long-range, as most of their players aren't too reliable from beyond the arc. This was one of the prime reasons why the LA Lakers pursued him in the first place.

The LA Lakers are currently without Anthony Davis and LeBron James, which could give Ben McLemore a great chance to flourish, as he would get the leeway to make more shots.

Even when Davis and James do return, Ben McLemore could still prove to be a key player for Frank Vogel. He could create the kind of impact from the bench that other guards like Alex Caruso and Horton-Tucker haven't been able to create, especially on the scoring front.

Published 07 Apr 2021, 23:50 IST
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