LAS VEGAS — It was everything Kings fans had hoped when the touted best shooter in the draft fell to them at No. 7. Early in the first quarter Ben McLemore swung into the left corner, caught the pass and with a quick, effortless motion was up and shooting a two (his foot was on the line). It was a beautiful shot that splashed right through the net.
It also was a mirage — McLemore would take 22 more shots on the night and hit 3 of them. He was 1-of-11 from three.
Almost all of them were just as pretty — as advertised his form is sweet — but the Kings rookie star had a rough debut in the Las Vegas Summer League in a loss to Dallas, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-23 shooting.
Take a deep breath and relax Kings fans, it’s not as bad as the numbers look — McLemore was finding space and getting good looks. In the regular season you might hold a shooter back on a cold night, but this is Summer League where rookies are here to learn.
“I wasn’t trying to jack a lot of shots up or nothin’ like that, they was all good shots,” McLemore said. “I feel like they was all good shots I was just missing. My shots just were not falling. Great shooters have some bad shooting nights. “
They weren’t all good shots, he certainly forced a few two-pointers late in the game. But shot selection was not an issue with Kings Summer League coach Chris Jent.
“He’s got to take good shots, when he’s open he’s got to knock shots down,” Jent said. “He had a tough day today but he’s got to pick his head up and get after it tomorrow. Fortunately we get back in the gym and get some shots up and learn from it. That’s why we’re here, to learn and get better.”
McLemore did float around a lot on the perimeter and stop in transition at the arc a lot. He wanted the threes and he was fearless about taking them.
He did attack once, having a putback dunk that showed off his athleticism.
But mostly he looked like a guy adjusting — to the longer three point line (he looked down at it a couple times), the different basketball, the overall speed of the game at this level (which is still a step below NBA level).
McLemore’s shots didn’t fall, but Jent isn’t concerned about that after one Summer League game.
“Long term, not worried about him,” Jent said. “As long as a player is willing to put the work in and get better and be more consistent — which he is going to do — you’re not worried.”