Ben McLemore joins the Houston Rockets this year in the midst of a crossroads in his career, but his ability to hit shots may finally earn him an important role.
As a former 7th overall pick, Ben McLemore has been a bit of a disappointment so far. The six-year vet hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status back in 2013 and is by no means a lock to make the roster. McLemore hasn’t been able to find the right fit during his stints in Sacramento and Memphis, but there are reasons to believe the Houston Rockets could use him.
Take a look at Austin Rivers. Austin was in a similar situation when he joined the Rockets last year, but managed to reinvent himself in the Rockets offense. Rivers was a legit sixth man last season and was often in the closing lineup with the team. As he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated, his time on the Rockets is the happiest he’s ever been in his career.
When it comes down to it, the depth of the shooting guard position is still up in the air. For now, the position will likely be filled by Danuel House or Gerald Green. Both of these guys, however, are hot and cold players, especially Green. If they struggle, it could open the door for McLemore to get some minutes.
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With James Harden playing 35-plus minutes a night, McLemore would likely share the floor most times with Russell Westbrook. Westbrook’s drive and kicks would allow for a lot of open shots for McLemore.
While he played in a limited capacity with the Kings last season, Ben recorded a career-high 41.5 percent shooting from downtown, so we know he is capable of fitting in with the 3-point barrage known as the Houston offense.
McLemore is also a high-flyer. The Rockets could run McLemore from the corner for alley-oops, similar to what Westbrook used to do with Andre Roberson. Like Roberson, opposing defenses will likely give McLemore space considering the other personnel Houston will have on the floor.
One knock on McLemore is that he has a tendency to over-dribble, but that shouldn’t happen with Harden and Westbrook commanding the ball for the majority of the time. If Ben does try to hijack the offense with the likes of James or Russ on the floor, Mike D’Antoni will not hesitate to leave him on the bench. Often times, McLemore will simply need to stand in the corner to space the floor and be smart when he gets the ball.
This feels like the last chance in the NBA for McLemore, so he needs to take advantage of it. He’s still only 26, can dunk and hit 3-pointers, but hasn’t made a big impact on an NBA team yet.
Hopefully, he can make an impact on the Houston Rockets this season.