The upcoming NBA draft is reminiscent of the class of 2000, led by Kenyon Martin with the No. 1 pick and highlighted by the careers of Mike Miller, Michael Redd, Hedo Turkoglu and Jamaal Magloire.
That’s five fringe star-caliber players, three of which actually made a single All-Star appearance in their careers. Stromile Swift, Darius Miles and Marcus Fizer were top-five picks. It was arguably the most lackluster draft class of this generation. Until now.
Kansas guard Ben McLemore is the guy in this draft being compared to Jesus Shuttlesworth, and could be the most talented, mixing a deadly shooting stroke with athleticism that can get fans out of their seats.
McLemore is considered by experts to have “future All-Star” potential, but is still far from a sure thing, just like most of the players in this draft class. Orlando, holding the No. 2 pick where McLemore is expected to go, has reportedly shopped that No. 2 slot to the Clippers in exchange for point guard Eric Bledsoe.
That could stem from reports of McLemore having poor workouts with the Magic and Suns. The corniest of skeptics are concerned about the 20-year-old’s character, because of reports that his AAU coach copped 10 stacks on his behalf from a middleman advisor-type, who later became his agent.
The red flags are going to follow McLemore all the way to his NBA debut, but what happens past that is really the concern. Living up to the Ray Allen comparisons is going to be a challenge, to say the least..
Allen (in his younger days) was an aggressive, silent killer from the field. Even with a diminished role in Boston and Miami, Allen stayed in full attack mode and shot the ball like he was still that All-American at UConn and the young baller in Milwaukee. That’s who he was channeling when taking that life-saving three-pointer for the Heat in Game 6 of the Finals, when he didn’t even consider kicking it back to LeBron James.
With McLemore playing alongside seniors Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson, we still haven’t seen him in a leadership role despite being the best player on the squad.
Is an NBA team supposed to feature McLemore the way Milwaukee did Allen? Right now, the kid is trade bait and the team looking to improve its roster to championship level is pausing on the opportunity to land him. Yes, we’re still talking about the Clippers.
If he can’t get the Magic or Clippers to engage, how far does his 15.9 points a game and 42 percent shooting from three-point range go?
Regardless of what a draft class looks like, we have this habit of likening prospects to guys who have already proven themselves. It’s a fun but questionable analysis.
Careful with the Ray Allen comparisons, though. McLemore could just as easily become one of the Rush brothers.