Ben McLemore quickly established himself as one of the premier NBA prospects in college basketball. He stood out early as a two-way guard whose strengths should translate nicely from one level to the next.
He averaged 15.9 points on 42 percent shooting from three as a redshirt freshman, showing off the upside of starting shooting guard at the next level.
If you were to draw up a blueprint to build the ideal off-guard athlete, Ben McLemore is what you'd come up with.
At 6'5'' with fluid athleticism and explosiveness in the open floor, McLemore has the physical tools that allow him to elude defenders on the way to the rim and consistently finish above it. He measured a whopping 42'' max vertical leap at the combine.
McLemore also has defensive potential as a perimeter ball-stopper, which only sweetens the package he has to offer.
Above the Rim
Check out McLemore's hops and his ability to finish at heights defenders aren't capable of reaching:
You won't find a better-looking stroke in college basketball. McLemore shot 42 percent from behind the arc, illustrating picturesque mechanics that should be featured on an instructional DVD.
McLemore gets tremendous elevation on his jumper and times his release with the apex of his jump. It helps create separation and allows him to rise and fire over contesting arms.
On the way up, McLemore displays balance and zero wasted motion. As a spot-up shooter, he catches and releases with rhythm, stepping into the shot with his feet squared to the rim.
Even his misses look good, and some even go in.
He drained the game-tying three against Iowa State with a bank shot from 26 feet out.
Though not his forte, McLemore has proved capable of putting the ball on the floor before launching. Whether it's to use a pick or to build rhythm before the shot, it helps him avoid perimeter defense and get off a cleaner look at the rim.
Ray Allen Comparison
It seems that every year we find a player to compare to Ray Allen. This year, it's McLemore, and it's the most accurate comparison yet.
With similar builds and athletic ability, both excel at recognizing open space and occupying it in the half court. Thousands of great shooters over the years were ineffective because they couldn't get open. But both McLemore and Allen are excellent without the ball, using screens and motion to free themselves up.
Check out the similarities between their off-ball movement and the way they catch and shoot in rhythm.
The only glaring weakness surrounding McLemore's offensive game is his inability to create off the dribble. While he's capable of attacking north and south because of his dynamic athleticism, shaking east and west in the pull-up game is not one of his strengths.
McLemore is strictly an off-ball guard who rarely uses more than two or three dribbles. To really maximize his potential, he should implement step-back or pull-up jumpers off the bounce, which would allow him to dictate his own offense instead of the ball movement that surrounds him.
Draft Breakdown and NBA Outlook
Ben McLemore has already entered the conversation as a No. 1 overall candidate without anyone else stepping forward as a can't-miss prospect. He brings a sense of reliability to the table, offering little risk and a high basement.
If worse comes to worst, McLemore is a lights-out shooter who can slash in the half court and defend opposing scorers. He may not be a 25-point-per-game guy at the next level, but he has the potential to be an elite complementary scorer who presents substantial lineup flexibility because of his ability to play off ball-dominators.
Expect McLemore to get a look from every team drafting in the top five.