As noted throughout this early Draft process, the Magic have lots of options for this year's Draft. The need would be drafting Trey Burke — his player profile is coming soon — and shoring up the point guard position with Jameer Nelson's career winding down (or at least the prime of his career and time as a starting point guard in this league winding down).
If the Magic want to go with the player with the most talent, it might be Nerlens Noel. Noel, when healthy, is an athletic freak who can change a game defensively.
Where does that leave Ben McLemore?
On some draft boards he is the top player on the board because of Noel's injury. Some people believe he could be a Ray Allen-type player thanks to his shooting ability or something even more thanks to his athleticism. Then on other draft boards, they wonder if he is truly a top-5 pick kind of player because of the way he sometimes fades into the background.
It has been clearly established that the top of this Draft is not the normal top of the Draft, and so the story with McLemore likely has to fall along the lines of the Ray Allen story.
In his one year at Kansas, McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game, while shooting 49.5 percent from the floor and 42.0 percent from beyond the arc. McLemore quite clearly was able to produce consistently in a very difficult Big 12. That should be a sign that he is ready to take his game to the NBA.
Certainly more than Noel who still has a lot of work to do on his offensive game and probably more than Trey Burke, who still has questions to answer about his defensive ability and his point guard skills.
Yet, McLemore does not quite excite anybody it seems. He is good but not maybe the kind of player you build a franchise around. Noel has that potential, maybe Burke does. That is the curse of being at the top of this Draft.
But McLemore is the kind of player that any team could invest in if they manage expectations for him. He could very well be an All Star like Ray Allen, or he could be a very nice player who can contribute on both ends of the floor and spread the floor with his shooting ability as a secondary piece.
The Good: McLemore's shooting might be the best of any player in this Draft. It takes a lot to get compared to Ray Allen in any sense. To get compared in shooting says a whole ton more.
McLemore made 42 percent of his 3-pointers last year and scored 15.9 points per game. He posted a 58.6 percent effective field goal percentage, fourth in the Big 12, all while using 22.0 percent of possesions. McLemore is a rare freshman player who could score efficiently while using a ton of possessions.
Offensively, McLemore is already the most complete player. He has the athleticism to attack the basket and finish at the rim. And he also has the shooting touch to score from beyond the arc. McLemore is the kind of player who can contribute when he is the focus of the offense and when he is a secondary player.
This is the kind of player you want to have as a foundation for your franchise. At best, he is a star guy you can give the ball to. At worst, it seems like he can be a good secondary player and role player for when the puzzle pieces fit into place.
The Bad: McLemore is not a home run guy. He might be a double, or even a triple, but not a home run. And sometimes it seems like he has home run talent.
McLemore had three games where he scored 30 or more points and topped 20 points in 11 of Kansas' 37 games. It is those other 26 that sometimes had people wondering what McLemore's future in the NBA might be. McLemore had six games with 10 points or fewer, including an NCAA Tournament two-point, 0-for-9 shooting effort against North Carolina.
That performance against the Tar Heels has stuck out in some people's minds. His uneven performances down the stretch of the season — he averaged 11.0 points per game and posted a 41.4 percent effective field goal percentage in the NCAA Tournament and averaged 12.0 points per game and posted a 55.7 percent effective field goal percentage in the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments — showed perhaps how he can be efficient without scoring much at times.
Really, McLemore's detractors are stating what is the problem with this year's Draft (at least at the top). There simply do not seem to be any runaway top players. And McLemore is simply one of the best players in this Draft, but not a typical No. 2 overall pick.
Draft Sites Say:
NBADraft.net: "Ultra smooth shooting guard with a lethal combination of athleticism and scoring ability … Absolutely an elite level athlete with prototypical size and athleticism for the 2-guard position … Shot has tremendous form, great elevation with the range to knock down the 3 ball consistently …
"Feel for the game must continue to advance. Still figuring out what he's capable of and learning how to use his immense talents. Shot selection is good but can improve. Learning when to force the issue and when to pass up contested shots. Also when to be aggressive defensively and when not to, in order to stay out of foul trouble … Must develop as a ball handler and become better at creating in isolation … In high school he had some issues with consistency, so he'll need to learn to exhibit a high level of effort on a more constant basis."
Final Word: In almost any Draft, taking Ben McLemore as a mid-Lottery or top-10 player would be a no-brainer. He is a talented player and a guy that can help any team that drafts him. It is just that he will have the expectations and pressure of being the second player picked in the Draft if the Magic take him. That should not deter him or Orlando. McLemore, in my opinion, is the player most likely to have a long career in the NBA. He has all the physical tools to be a contributor in this league.
Follow Ben McLemore on Twitter (@Humb1e_Hungry23)!