The NBA Draft is coming up Thursday and Orlando is weighing a ton of options as it tries to sort through the available players with the second pick in the Draft. There are a lot of options to pick from.
One player the Draft experts have honed in on for one of those top spots is Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore. I profiled McLemore earlier this month and discussed his strengths as a shooter and scorer and some of his shortcomings as a consistent player in his only year playing for the Jayhawks and his two years in Lawrence.
Last week, I spoke with Josh Klingler of 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City which is the flagship station for Kansas athletics. He has been Kansas basketball's
play-by-play pre- and post-game voice for the last eight years for much of the Bill Self-era. Klingler is also a correspondent for CampusInsiders.com.
If anyone could share with us about who Ben McLemore is and what he can bring to the NBA, it is an observer like Klingler.
This week's episode of the Orlando Magic Daily podcast (which I hope will be come more weekly than every-one-in-a-while), we dive into one of the favorites for the Magic's selection in Thursday's Draft.
Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily: The first place to start, obviously, is Ben is one of the top guys in this year's Draft. He has a lot of potential. When he came into Kansas last year, what were the expectations for him for that freshman year? Did people expect him to be this kind of player this soon?
Josh Klingler, 610 Sports Radio: Certainly, I think they could have used him the year before when he was dealing with the academic side of things. When he started to practice in the second semester of his first year on campus, he was drawing rave reviews already. And this was a team that ended up two years ago making it to the national championship game, and they felt like they could have used him on that squad and probably have liked their chances against a loaded Kentucky team of course that year. This was a guy who drew rave reviews for his play on what was essentially a scout team.
OMD: I think the big question mark with him is the assertiveness. Everyone sees the talent and yet they didn't see him score 20 points a night like he could have. Do you feel that is just a factor of his age and being part of a team with a lot of seniors or would he have been better off learning that at the college level for another year?
Klingler: You understand why guys go to this Draft. They all probably could benefit from staying, right? It's no secret that most of these guys you might say they are NBA-ready, but there are still plenty of things these guys need to work on. Sure, in a perfect world you would love to have this kid around another year or two to develop those type of things.
I think a big factor was the senior class. They did push him to try to score more and be more assertive. He's kind of laid back and kind of quiet. It's not really in his nature. I think Bill Self called him a pleaser a number of times. That's not always a bad thing, but he's a guy that wanted to be part of the team and not necessarily be the man. That can be good and that can be bad at times.
At times, it would have served him better to be more of the aggressor a season ago than he was. At times, you got to fit into the team concept. That will be a plus for him no matter what team he goes to.
OMD: What's the biggest thing he has to improve on as he continues to grow as a player?
Klingler: I think it's the ball handling. He's going to have to be a guy probably who handles better I'm guessing at the next level. He's got all the athletic ability and all the skills. You always feel like I think he can develop a little more of a killer instinct and be a little more aggressive and much more confident probably in games too. I'm sure that comes. Just like I'm sure if he had come back we would have probably seen a much more aggressive player than we saw a season ago.
OMD: Everyone, I think, talks about Ben's shooting ability as one of his greatest assets. What's another part of his game that maybe people don't talk about as much that something that makes him stand out?
Klingler: His shooting ability and his ability to run the lane and get up the floor. Now, you are talking about going from college to the NBA. I think when we see enough of those guys in college where you say, "Oh, that's a good college player." Then you see some things on the court every once in a while and say, "Wow, that's next level." And he's got those types of things. Whether it's his ability to follow up and jump on the glass and dunk. And certainly he is great above the rim — they ran a lot of lob plays for him.
I just think he stood out for his athletic ability on the college ranks. Whether or not he gets to the NBA, I'm not the best judge. He did some things I saw on the court where you were just like, "Wow, that's different, that's special, that's next level."
OMD: My thanks to Josh for taking the time to answer my questions on Ben McLemore. You can listen to the full interview on this week's episode of the podcast (above).