With Ben McLemore available and entering the final year of his rookie contract, the Dallas Mavericks could probably work out a trade offer that the Sacramento Kings would accept. But is the former Jayhawk worth a gamble?
Coming of his worst season in his young NBA career, the third-year player has so far not fulfilled the potential that the Kings and many others saw when he came out of Kansas.
After averaging 8.8 points in 26 minutes per game during his 2013-14 rookie campaign, McLemore improved his numbers to 12.1 points and 32 minutes a game during the 2014-15 season.
But with the constant turmoil in Sacramento with a roster and coaching situation in flux, McLemore saw reduced playing time during the 2015-16 season. Under coach George Karl, he played just 21 minutes a game while averaging 7.8 points.
The Kings, dissatisfied with the development of the 7th pick in the 2013 draft, were willing to trade McLemore before the deadline in February, but no trade materialized even though the Mavs were apparently interested.
Now that reports are surfacing that teams once again are approaching the Kings about McLemore, it is worth taking a look at his fit in the Mavericks backcourt.
At 6-foot-5 and with a 6-7 wingspan McLemore has decent size for his position. With only Wesley Matthews and Justin Anderson on the wings, Dallas certainly has a need for another shooting guard in the rotation.
While McLemore has disappointed to this point in his NBA career, some of that is probably due to the unstable situation in Sacramento. The former Jayhawk has a very good-looking shooting stroke that extends out to the three-point-line, but he only shot around 36 percent from behind the arc during the last two seasons, a number that would surely improve if he played with a supreme floor spacer like Dirk Nowitzki.
Beyond athleticism, shooting and moving off the ball – the moniker “Baby Ray Allen” hasn’t really stuck – McLemore doesn’t seem to bring much to the table.
On the ball, he showed flashes as a good defender during the 2014-15 season under Mike Malone. He was a plus 0.71 on ESPN’s defensive real-plus minus ranking and a plus 0.21 on offense while playing all 82 games, good for 22nd place among all shooting guards.
This year, both numbers decreased by a considerable margin as McLemore was a minus 1.51 on offense and a minus 0.51 on defense, among all shooting guards he dropped to the 55th place. Again, how much of that is due to the disastrous situation in Sacramento or due to McLemore’s failings is unclear.
To be sure, if the Mavs are interested in acquiring McLemore, they should not expect much from him other than scoring the ball. With averages of 2.7 rebounds,1.3 assists and 0.8 steals for his three-year career, the former Kansas standout certainly hasn’t impressed in those areas (his best PER at 10.4 from the 2014-15 season is far below average).
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But the twenty-three-year old really knows how to play off screens and he would probably function well in Rick Carlisle’s flow offense. At 23, McLemore is also only slightly older than Justin Anderson and, for the right price, certainly worth a gamble.
With a contract worth just over four million next season, the Mavericks could simply absorb McLemore’s contract if they so desired. The more likely scenario is that the Mavs couple a future second round pick and someone like Devin Harris, whose salary is also just over four million for the next two seasons. Harris would fill a need for the Kings who could use a point guard because Rajon Rondo is set to become a free agent and Darren Collison‘s future in the league is currently unclear.